George Martin hits the road to meet with former players

As most of you know, NFL Alumni Executive Director and President George Martin walked 3,000 miles to raise money for the medical needs of September 11, 2001, first responders. In his recent meeting with former players in the Buffalo area, he told us he went through 27 pairs of sneakers between New York and San Diego. Talk about the rubber meeting the road!

Jeff Nixon, George Martin and Mark Brammer

Over the past year, Mr. Martin has logged a lot of miles visiting established and emerging NFL Alumni chapters to give former players a better understanding of what the organization has accomplished since he became our leader. He’s already been to Northern California, Indianapolis, New York and Phoenix. His next tentative stop is Denver. If you live in the area, be sure you come out and meet him personally.

One thing you will quickly find out about Mr. Martin is that he is first and foremost a family man. You will seldom see him without his wife Diane at his side. Mr. Martin is acutely aware of the fact that our wives and our children are the driving forces behind many of the decisions that we make, and as such, they should always be included in the NFL Alumni’s mission and vision for improving our lives.

Wives were in attendance too! Joyce Nixon - on the left and Sabrina Perry on the right and "sweet" Lou Piccone in the middle

At our Buffalo meeting of local alumni, Mr. Martin said, “While there is much more that needs to be accomplished, the NFL Alumni’s role in advocating for improvements in the quality of life for retired NFL players and their families has been achieved in a number of important areas. In addition to our efforts to secure Long Term Care Insurance and increases to the 88 Plan for the men that need our help the most, we have successfully petitioned the National Football League and NFL Players Association for vast improvements to pension benefits for all pre-1993 players.”

As you can imagine, the number one topic of discussion at the meeting was the Legacy Benefit. Mr. Martin talked about his recent meeting with the NFL where he was invited to provide recommendations on the distribution of this new pension supplement. After consulting with the NFL Alumni Chapter Presidents and the general membership, he was able to bring the key concerns of thousands of former players before negotiators.

Mr. Martin distributed a chart showing us how the benefit would be allocated under a proposal that would provide specific increases that are based on three factors:

  • What “floor” amount ($500, $600, $750, $1,000 or none) will be established for players who took Early Retirement, Early Payment, or the Social Security Adjustment Option
  • The number of credited seasons a vested player had during his pre-1993 career
  • The era in which a player was active (providing a higher benefit credit for older players)

Mr. Martin told us that he has asked for the payments to be retroactive to the August 4, 2011 signing of the CBA.

In his presentation, Mr. Martin also talked about the newest effort to market retired players through the NFL Alumni’s Group Licensing Program: “By granting us the right to represent you in this program, you enable us to create and secure significant revenue-producing programs that will begin to provide retired players with an opportunity to leverage their name and likeness for continued financial gain.”

In order for this to be successful endeavor, Mr. Martin says it is imperative that as many former players as possible sign the agreements. He stressed that these are non-exclusive agreements. In other words, you’re free to secure your own opportunities independent of the agreement. The NFL Alumni will pay you 80% of the net proceeds for each use of your rights, and use 20% for alumni advocacy, charity and association operations. You can download a copy of the agreement at http://bit.ly/nfla_gla

He also talked about the NFL Alumni’s partnership with Stoneacre, a technology company that is in the process of developing a website that will help us connect with our fan base.

In the meetings he has had with top-level NFL marketing representatives, Mr. Martin has been successful in getting team logos on NFL Alumni merchandise. He said he will continue to work to increase revenues by working with League officials to get additional licensing agreements that expand our merchandising and apparel sales.

During the question and answer period of his presentation, Mr. Martin said he was well-aware of the opinions of some former players that the NFL Alumni is controlled by the NFL, but he said, “That perception will start to change as we continue to increase our revenue base through corporate sponsorships and better marketing of former players.”

NFL Alumni President George Martin standing with Booker Edgerson - President of the Buffalo Bills NFLPA Former Player Chapter

In his closing remarks, Mr. Martin said he doesn’t really care about the things that have divided retired players in the past. He said he’s only interested in finding solutions to the problems that have plagued us and have prevented us from coming together. 

We can all unite by becoming members of an organization that is governed and led by retired players, and is entirely devoted and focused on us!

It is time for all of us to get moving in the same direction.

It’s time for the rubber to meet the road.

 

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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 October 18, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Ervin "Sonny" Bishop

    The Long Term Care Insurance is a joke. I was denied for several reasons. One was loss of memory after the technician, who administered the test, said I did really good for someone my age(72). I would expect a linemen in the sixties should have a little memory loss. There were other reasons they gave, all of which I would contest if I thought it was worth it. I was informed by another teamate of mine, Walt Suggs, that he was also denied and nobody he knew of actually qualified. What in the world did they expect from older guys that played with poor equipment and rules in a time where rosters were small. We were led to believe that our life expectancy would be in the fifties according to the statistics of the day. I would appreciate you looking into Transamerica’s program and how they are judging applicants.
    My wife applied with me and passed. They were quick, in their efforts, to get her signed up. We thought the program was set up to fail the players and sign up their spouses.
    Thank you Jeff and George for you hard work.

    Sonny Bishop
    Dallas Texans 1962
    Oakland Raiders 1963
    Houston Oilers !964 – 69

    • Sonny,

      I played a decade or so later than you … decided to sign up on the last day available and passed with no problem ..I only signed up for myself and made no additions, basically taking what the NFL was willing to pay for.

      Additionally, I commend George and his efforts. As a former teammate of his in NY, he is and will remain a man of integrity and one who will place his fellow alumni at the top of his agenda.

      I understand the frustration of alumni needing a bigger piece of the pie but most of us have had 30 plus years to build upon another means of employment and retirement. Hopefully, the NFL retirement is “icing on the cake” for the majority of us reaching retirement age.

      We can all blame our parents for not waiting to have us until later in life as cable television and advertising revenues continue to drive salaries into the stratosphere!

      Stay well,

      Brian DeRoo
      Giants ’78
      Colts ’79-’81
      Montreal ’82-’85

  2. George Martin was a no-show at our meeting held on August 20th in Chicago. The Retired Players who attended had many questions, but there was no one there who could answer.
    The Union threw the Retired Players a “bone” thru the Legacy Fund which, as I understand, will compensate the Retired Players $114 per month per season vested. The Current Players voted themselves sizeable increases in compensation, severance, education, health, disability, and pension benefits.

  3. The longer they take to decide, the fewer that will be around to accept the pennies as opposed to their m(b)illions!

  4. Jim Kelly------------------Steelers '64--Eagles '65-'68

    Is there any hope for the guys that played in the early 60’s that have 3 years any chance for anything? If there is an opportunity for someone in this situation to receive some financial and medical help I’m sure the participation to fight for this would increase tremendously. All I hear is vested this and vested that. The players today are vested in three years. What’s the deal!!
    There are a lot like me out there that feel the same way. We need some help also.

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