NFL Hall of Famers speak out against poor benefits

Associated Press Monday, June 20, 2011

 
WASHINGTON (AP) – A group of NFL Hall of Famers is backing a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, demanding better benefits for former players.

Defensive end Carl Eller is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He says the league has not done what is “fair and right” in supporting the financial and medical concerns of former players.

He was joined at the National Press Club on Monday by Lem Barney, Elvin Bethea, Paul Krause and Joe DeLamielleure, among others.
The former players want their concerns considered in any forthcoming deal between the locked-out players and NFL owners.

Eller says “football is a game; life is not.” He adds: “We are suffering from the game.”

Retired NFL players Irv Cross (L) and Paul Krause (R) join a group of former football players as they discuss the ways they believe the NFL and the NFLplayers union has failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club inWashington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Current NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo (L) comforts former San Francisco 49er George Visger (C) after Visger spoke in detail about living with neurologicalproblems 30 years after his playing career, as former football players discussed the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union have failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Former San Francisco 49er George Visger holds a copy of a scan of his brain as he speaks in detail about living with neurological problems 30 years afterhis playing career, as former football players discussed the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union have failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Wearing his Super Bowl ring from 1981, former San Francisco 49er George Visger speaks in detail about living with neurological problems 30 years afterhis playing career, as former football players discussed the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union have failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired NFL player Dave Pear (R) joins a group of former football players as they discuss the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union has failedto deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club inWashington, June 20, 2011. Also pictured is former player and news conference moderator Irv Cross (L). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

Former San Francisco 49er George Visger holds a notebook in which he records details about his life as he combats short-term memory loss and other neurologicalproblems he deals with 30 years after his playing career, as former football players discussed the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union have failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

 

 

Retired NFL player Carl Eller (R) shakes hands with former San Francisco 49er George Visger (3rd L) after Visger spoke in detail about living with neurologicalproblems 30 years after his playing career, as former football players discussed the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union have failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. Also pictured are current player Brendon Ayanbadejo (L) and retired player Lem Barney (2nd R). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Current NFL player Brendon Ayanbadejo (R) joins a group of former football players as they discuss the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players unionhas failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club inWashington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

 

Retired NFL player Dave Pear pauses during remarks as he joins a group of former football players as they discuss the ways they believe the NFL and theNFL players union has failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Retired NFL player Carl Eller (R) leads a group of former football players as they discuss the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union hasfailed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, during a news conference at the National Press Club inWashington, June 20, 2011. Also pictured is former player and news conference moderator Irv Cross (front, L). REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

NFL Hall-of-Famer Lem Barney talks about how an eye doctor informed him that he had suffered a number of concussions during his football career, as he joined a news conference with former football players to discuss the ways they believe the NFL and the NFL players union has failed to deliver appropriate pensions and medical benefits for them, at the National Press Club in Washington, June 20, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on June 21, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. its nice to see a lot of big name players getting involved , but i still dont think they will do anything soon , as i said dad is 86 and need any help he can get , but the sad thing is i think my dad will pass away before the get it done, my fingers are crossed . jack sutton son of bud sutton 50 to 54 eagles

  2. THIS IS THE KIND OF REPRESENTATION THE FORMER PLAYERS NEED, THE HOF PLAYERS THE RECOGNITION TYPE PLAYERS CAN BE EFFECTIVE IN THE QUEST TO RESOLVE RETIRED/FORMER PLAYERS QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES BECAUSE CARL IS RIGHT, WE ARE SUFFERING FROM THE GAME…….OWNERS AND OUR ASSOCIATION ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROVIDING COMPETENT METHODS OF DEALING WITH THE CURRENT PROBLEMS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THEY ARE ADDRESSING THEM WITH THE CURRENT PLAYERS…AFTER ALL WE ARE THE LAB RATS AND ARE LIVING WITH THE TRUTH … WE HAVE BEEN DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY THE SYSTEM AND THEY ARE MORALLY AND ECONOMICALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDITIONS CREATED BY THE GAME.

  3. THANK YOU FELLOW N.F.L. PLAYER FOR SPEAKING OUT. THAT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO HELP ALL PLAYER AND TO PUT PRESSURE ON ALL H.O.F. PLAYERS TO MAKE A STAND NOW TO SAVE FAMILIES AND LIVES , IT MAY JUST BE YOUR OWN LIFE YOU SAVE OR AN OLD TEAMMATE.

  4. Many thanks to the former HOF players and several pre 93′ retirees for making a concerted effort in enlightening the public about the physical and financial difficulties many retired players are experiencing today. I have strongly felt a strong media blitz exposing the poor benefits and pension package many retirees are struggling to exist on will embarrass both the NFL owners and active players into doing the right thing that includes dramatic pension and health benefits for those who helped make the NFL into the multi billion dollar cash cow that it is today.

  5. Well said Jeff and all the other NFL Brothers who are stepping forward. Special thanks to my 49er team mate Dan Bunz and my Colorado team mate Mike Davis.

    As I have been pulled deeper and deeper into this cesspool called post NFL life, I have been forced to reveal portions of my life no one should be priveledged to. Unfortunately, I have felt compeled to get the “real” story out to the general public. The fact I speak out as much as I have, has taken a huge toll on my family.

    We need to lay to rest all the misconceptions about former NFL players living as millionaires. The public needs to be allowed to take a good hard look at the cost we have paid to entertain them on Sundays. First and foremost, this means reiterating the fact that the NFL is nothing more than an entertainment industry. We provide no social redeeming values, no real benefit to society, no improvements to peoples lives, just pure entertainment. And at what cost to entertain the public, our families lives? I totally understand with today’s salaries the general fan base will not have much pity on us, but people need to realize today’s players are but a small fraction of the NFL. Even for $10 million, would anyone trade their health, families, minds and lives for this much cash? We all need to educate the public on the real story, and this means tossing aside everything we were ever taught. Suck it up, never complain, keep your mouth shut, take one for the team etc etc. We all bought into the mind washing which enabled the NFL to continue to suck our families blood.

    We all lived it and we all loved it, but as a young 21 year old in the NFL, I trusted the professionals the team “required” me to be evaluated by. I trusted the team doctor, Dr. Fred Behling, who immediately declared after the trainers were forced to pop my dislocated knee back in place, that it was, “Only a sprain”; I trusted that same team doctor when he drained 65 -70 ccs of blood from my knee 4 times in the next 2 months each time it would blow out, that it was still “Only a sprain”; I trusted the trainers and team doctors on the sidelines who repeated handed me handfuls of smelling salts to clear the cobwebs in order to keep me in a game that if I followed their professional directions no harm would come of it; I trusted Dr. Fred Behling, who told me in the locker room the constant pounding headaches, daily projectile vomiting, loss of hearing and partial loss of eye sight was due to high blood pressure and his high blood pressure pills would fix me right up; I trusted the trainers who told me, a young 22 year old lying in intensive care after a brain surgery, that they were looking into having a special made helmet to protect the shunt they had just installed in my brain, and I could keep playing; I trusted my Union would have my back when I approached them regarding potential legal issues I might face, BEFORE the season even ended, and BEFORE I had a clue about the nightmare I would enter; I trusted my Union and my team when I needed them most, while being given last rites 4 months after our victory in Super Bowl XVI; I trusted they would do the right thing once they understood my situation was caused by me fulfilling my obligations as an employee of the SF 49ers and the NFL; I trusted they would fulfill their fiduciary duties and not force me to push through nearly 5 years of legal battles, second opinions and interrogations by their legal council; and I trusted after winning my Workers Comp case in 1986 that all my problems were behind me. Thirty years later I still fight tooth and nail every time one of my doctors changes a prescription, or recommends a new treatment.

    The problem is I trusted the NFL. A $9.5 billion dollar industry based on employee violence and driven by greed.

    We need everyone to step forward and share their stories, regardless of how exposed you feel. Unless we air our dirty laundry and educate the general public on the true cost we have paid, the $9.5 billion NFL machine will continue to chug along, chewing up it’s employees and tossing them aside like pieces of ground up meat, as it’s coffer expands exponentially on the blood and minds of players and the broken hearts of their families.

    If we make enough noise, maybe, just maybe, we might be able to embarress the NFL into doing what’s right.

    God Bless all the players and their families who have suffered much worse than mine.

    George Viser (49er team mate of Dan Bunz, Colorado team mate of Mike Davis)
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  6. George,

    Thank you so much for all you are doing and sharing your story and coming forth. I can’t even begin to imagine the ordeal you have been through. My thoughts and prayers will continue to be with you, ALWAYS.
    I played professionally for 8 years in 5 different leagues and had about 25 concussions and several other injuries, including a spinal contusion, that was quite serious. I can’t fathom what you have been through.
    My heartfelt THANK YOU to you, Jeff Nixon, and the many, many others who are doing so much for the cause of what is right for the players who built the game to what it is today and have been treated so horribly.
    Let me know if there is any thing I can do to help the cause. Prayers and health and healing to all.
    God Bless, Joe

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