Retired NFL Players: Let’s meet at the 50 yard line

During the past few years, retired players have been quite vocal on the issues surrounding the collective bargaining agreement. We now have the ability to instantly communicate our thoughts and ideas to thousands of our alumni brothers with the touch of a button on our computers. Unfortunately, some of the things we say and write get lost in translation, get spun like a top and get twisted like a pretzel.

Ultimately, we have to take ownership of what we have said, but sometimes what we say and what we mean are not always the same.       

For example… two people interpret words like “independent” and phrases like “uniting all retired players” can sometimes be the difference between night and day. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: We should make sure we talk “directly” with each other as much as possible……. and make sure that what we are saying is clearly understood.  

History is littered with stories of how wars were started because of a failure to communicate.

The communication I’m talking about is not the kind that I’m doing right now – as I type these words on my laptop. I’m talking about picking up the phone and calling someone. I’m talking about meeting someone face to face…..looking them in the eye and having a conversation.

I’m not saying that this will lead to songs of Kumbaya around the campfire, but I bet it will lead to a more respectful, reasonable and most importantly………truthful and accurate discussion.

Would we say half of the things we say on the internet – directly to the face of another former player we disagree with?  Probably not, although there are a few guys I know – and you know – that would.  The problem with that approach is that nothing gets resolved because our emotions get in the way of listening and learning and maybe even “compromising”.      

Because we are so distant from one another, it’s easy to do what I call the “Internet drive-by shooting” Here’s an example of this in another area of our lives:  When we’re driving in our cars and someone cuts us off we have a tendency to shout obscenities that we would never think of saying if the same type of thing happened in a crowded mall and someone walked in front of us and cut us off.  It’s easy to go beserk in the comfort of our car………or the comfort of our home – armed with a laptop computer.  

Keep in mind, most of the people in these discussions are former players and for most of our formative years we were encouraged to hate the opposition, the player, the team and the coach that stood across the field from us.  All of our coaches used psychological techniques to motivate us.  Remember how they would put up quotes from next weeks opponent on the locker room bulletin board.  I have to wonder if maybe some of that indoctrination has leaked into our personalities and our way of thinking.  Competition is ok, just as long as it’s “healthy”.   I probably shouldn’t use that term in reference to NFL football – which will never be healthy for your body or mind.   

I will be the first to say that I am guilty of everything I have just talked about. I admit that some of the things I have written were my attempt to stoke the fires of retired players and get them whipped into a frenzy that would hopefully get them actively participating in the discussion. Nonetheless, I have done my best to keep it real and “fact based”. 

Do we have strong opinions? 

Yes, we all have our own thoughts and ideas on what we think is the right way to go about getting retired player issues addressed.  I just hope that when the benefits for retired players have been determined – either by the CBA or mediation and court settlement – that we can all meet at the 50 yard line and remember that deep down inside most us wanted the same things.  We took different roads to get there, but now those roads should all converge.  

Like the active players do after every game, it would be nice if we could kneel down at the 50 yard line, hold hands and say a prayer for all our blessings……..and a prayer for those that have died and will never get the chance to see their “Legacy Fund” established.   


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 August 5, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Jeff, well said…I think we all get emotional about these things that affect us, and we say things that may seem harsh or insensitive, however, I also think that sometimes as uncomfortable as a conversation can, it has to be ‘point blank’, black and white, or the interpretation can be confusing.

    I like I am sure most on this board are so frustrated, because the “waters are so muddied” NFL, NFLPA, NFL ALUMNI, TEA PARTY GUYS, …where is the “real truth”???, who do I believe?, who has ability to take away!!! whats coming to me/us, for not siding with them????….so like most if not all, we cover our bases….and sit…and wait…and wait…????

  2. JN,Well put and timely…Thanks for the Coaching points..82

  3. Walter Beach III

    I like your thoughts and concerns as to how we should engage each other. I will phone you or any one when I am in need of clarity. I have no specific or detail knowledge about the Legacy Fund. I would great to get data and information about Legacy Fund. ???? Keep up the work of informing us.
    Walter Beach III

  4. Jeff,

    Played in the NFL Alumni golf toruney last Monday, New England Chapter. Great to see everyone.

    Lots of talk about the CBA and potential benefits to retired players. Lots of confusion too.

    Is it possible to circulate a broad overview of what we are talking about with regard to the contribution to the Legacy Fund, who manages the fund, who administers the benefits, how the benefits will be determined and so on.

    No one had a handle on the details and an update would be timely



  5. Jeff, this is a first time reply to anyone who has been involved with comments on the potential increase in benefits. You make complete sense. I have heard three of four different scenerios. I have heard that the NFLPA has not agreed with the NFL on how to help the pre 93s

    I do know that if we continue to be completely divided into small factions we play into the hands of people who do not have our best interest. Anyhing I can co to help unite, count me in.

    Mike Donohoe

  6. Amen

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