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NFL HOFers Open Letter Discussion

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  • NFL HOFers Open Letter Discussion


    To Roger Goodell, DeMaurice Smith and C. David Baker:

    We, the undersigned Pro Football Hall of Famers, were integral to the creation of the modern
    NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue. But when the league enshrined us as the
    greatest ever to play America’s most popular sport, they gave us a gold jacket, a bust and a ring
    — and that was it.

    People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games
    and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us. But on balance,
    it’s not. As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this
    game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe
    otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.

    We believe we deserve more. ​We write to demand two things: Health insurance and an
    annual salary for all Hall of Famers that includes a share of league revenue.
    It might seem like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket for the country’s most profitable sports
    league. The total cost for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance is less than $4 million —
    less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league
    generates in revenue. Paying Hall of Famers an annual salary works out to about 40 cents for
    every $100 in annual revenue, a figure that will increase dramatically in the near future with
    legalized gambling.

    We demand nothing less than this. In the past, the NFL has tried to appease retired players by
    creating programs like the $620 million “Legacy Fund.” But from our own experience, and in
    speaking with other retired players, we know that such bureaucracies have proven to be little
    more than cynical public relations ploys that fail to help those who desperately need it.
    Commissioner Goodell, we know better, and the fans do too.

    The mistreatment of NFL Hall of Famers, who are often exploited as unpaid ambassadors of the
    sport, contrasts with how Major League Baseball treats its former players. ​A baseball player
    who has appeared on a Major League roster for one day is entitled to health insurance for
    the rest of his life. A player employed on a roster for 43 days gets a lifelong pension.
    We consider ourselves the founders and early employees of a wildly successful business. Like
    analogous employees at other iconic American companies like Apple, Facebook and Amazon,
    it’s unjust to leave us behind while league revenues skyrocket decade after decade. ​In fact, the
    NFL is the only major American corporation that is set up this way.

    The NFL is notorious for the hard line it takes against players in negotiations. Yet the league
    always seems to have plenty of money for other priorities.

    One example: Your compensation, Commissioner Goodell, of $40 million annually as part of a
    multi-year deal worth up to $200 million. ​Meanwhile, many of us Hall of Fame players can’t walk
    and many can’t sleep at night. More than a few of us don’t even know who or where we are. Our
    long careers left us especially vulnerable to the dangers of this violent sport, especially those
    intentionally hidden from us. Commissioner Goodell, there are better uses for that money.

    Another example: the impending construction of the Hall of Fame Village, a mixed-use
    development project that President Baker estimated would cost about $1 billion. It’s not right to
    invest in such a project without first acknowledging the league’s debt to its great players. We are
    the reason people visit the Hall of Fame in the first place.

    The time has come for us to be treated as part of a game we’ve given so much to. ​Until our
    demands are met, the Hall of Famers will not attend the annual induction ceremony in
    Canton. ​It’s well-known that the NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, and while we
    are proud of our role in building this league, we don’t believe 100 years of player exploitation is
    something to celebrate. As we approach this momentous date, we challenge the NFL to honor
    its past by helping retired players instead of exploiting their images for marketing purposes.
    To be clear, we don’t want our efforts to detract from the latest announcement of Hall of Fame
    nominees, men we are proud to call our brothers. We are supremely grateful for this great
    game. We are grateful for our fellow players and we’re most grateful for our millions of fans
    around the world. It’s the connection between the players and fans — and not the corporate
    suits — that makes the NFL what it is. We’re confident that when our demands reach the court
    of public opinion, the fans will agree that the NFL owes us a debt of gratitude.

    Commissioner Goodell, you have often referred to Hall of Famers as the “Gold Standard” of the
    league and as “The Greatest Team Ever Assembled,” and you’re right: We are resolved as a
    team to stand up for ourselves. To underscore that we are a united front, we have elected a Hall
    of Fame Board, the first ever entity answering only to the concerns of Hall of Fame players. To
    advise us, our board has brought in executives at Fortune 500 companies, Wall Street veterans
    and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

    Our approach to these negotiations attempts to establish a template for active players in the
    next round of CBA negotiations for the expiration of the current deal in 2021. Our relationships
    with active players tell us that we’ve been historically underutilized as mentors — and that there
    has been a deliberate attempt to divide active and retired players. For instance, not a single
    retired player sits on the board of the NFLPA, and the organization’s longtime executive director
    Gene Upshaw once disparaged his fellow retired players by saying, “They can’t hire me and
    they can’t fire me. They can complain about me all day long…. But active players have my
    vote.” The interests of retired players have also been neglected by Upshaw’s successor,
    DeMaurice Smith, whose $4.5 million annual salary with an $8 million trust far exceeds the
    compensation most Hall of Famers made, even adjusted for inflation. But going forward, retired
    players and active players won’t be set in opposition to each other. This time, it’s different.

    Eric Dickerson, the legendary running back and single-season rushing record holder, will
    spearhead the board’s player organizing efforts. Dickerson’s status as a charismatic media
    member and his friendships with multiple generations of Hall of Famers makes him perfectly
    suited to this role. Leading negotiations on the business end is Gustavo Miguel, a Wall Street
    entrepreneur and Dickerson’s business partner and agent. Dickerson and Miguel have a strong
    track record of working together; both have made mid-career sacrifices to devote themselves to
    this important cause.

    An NFL marketing slogan states that “Football is Family.” We agree, which is why we’re
    demanding to be treated like family members who are integral to the league’s present and
    future. As the legends of the game’s past, we deserve nothing less.

    Eric Dickerson, Chairman, Hall of Fame Board
    Board Members:
    Marcus Allen
    Mel Blount
    Derrick Brooks
    Jim Brown
    Earl Campbell
    Richard Dent
    Carl Ellard
    Marshall Faulk
    Mike Haynes
    Rickey Jackson
    Ronnie Lott
    Curtis Martin
    Joe Namath
    John Randle
    Jerry Rice
    Deion Sanders
    Bruce Smith
    Jackie Smith
    Lawrence Taylor
    Kurt Warner
    Sarah White, Reggie White’s widow
    Now since this letter was published Rice & Warner have publicly separated themselves from it. I have a few takes and comments on this topic.

    1. I think what they are looking for is great but I think it is VERY self-serving. The ask is limited only to those HOF players not ALL players.

    2. There is a large part of me who really laughed at this statement and their threat. In fact I recall SOOO MANY of these guys just all too willing to turn their backs on T.O. when he boycotted his HOF induction. Yet we now have many of those same players and people who have signed their name with the very same threat and action....


  • #2

    The COC prevents me from saying what I really think.


    • #3
      Originally posted by Rancid View Post

      The COC prevents me from saying what I really think.

      And you're unwilling to...edit those thoughts?


      • #4
        Dickerson was on Golic and Wingo this morning and made it clear that the ultimate goal is health care and better pensions for all players, not just HOFers.
        You're Wrong!
        Recognize That You're Wrong!
        Move On


        • #5
          Originally posted by broncolee View Post
          Dickerson was on Golic and Wingo this morning and made it clear that the ultimate goal is health care and better pensions for all players, not just HOFers.
          The goal yes...and I have heard that as well but the case looks much better when players like Dickerson, Cris Carter, Shannon Sharpe and others are directly behind it. Right now the issue which I believe current players are going to have is that the NFL has already started to make some VERY aggressive rule changes to officiate the violence out of the game. As a result I'd think we'd potentially see an attempt to taper benefits to players of this generation and bolster those of the generation of the past. Whereas if ALL players both HOF and current were unified in this then I think we'd have better results for all.

          The other element which really, for a lack of better word, bothered me is that they are using the HOF induction ceremony as a bargaining chip. This is only MONTHS after T.O. did this and was heavily criticized for it. Yes I realize that T.O's reasons were personal and this letter will be touted as more team "thing"....that said it is equally as insulting to to those inductees into this HOF class when your "new" teammates simply opt to not show up. Even if it is for a greater good.