Retired NFL players in need of financial help
Former NFL players are hurting physically, emotionally and financially, and they say neither the league nor the players association is doing much to help.
An 11 day online auction through the Web site began Thursday. Simpson gave to his offensive linemen after his historic 2,000 yard rushing season in 1973.
“There are a lot of guys out there that are down, depressed and in need of help,” said Kramer, a former standout guard for the Green Bay Packers under Vince Lombardi. “Some of them can’t get help, and many of them won’t take help. But they need help.”
Kramer organized GGAF as a not for profit charity. Money raised is to be administered by a board of directors. wholesale nfl jerseys from china GGAF board members include Joe DeLamielleure, a former guard for Buffalo, and Hall of Famers Gale Sayers and Willie Davis.
The board, Ditka said, does not try to discern why a former player might need money. Needing help for medical care or needing help to pay basic bills are reasons worthy of attention from the trust.
Ditka made attempts not to “embarrass” the NFL or the NFL Players Association during an emotional half hour news conference. But he also didn’t shy away from attacking those organizations. He suggested a six member retirement board, with three representatives each from the league and the union, have denied too many requests for help. He also called the NFLPA the least effective of the four big sports unions.
DeLamielleure made no attempt to hide his disdain: “Our pensions suck.”
Last year, Ditka said he sent letters to all 32 NFL owners asking for donations of $100,000 each. He received two replies and two checks, one for $5,000 and another for $10,000. He said he had an assistant send them back.
Wednesday night, he learned that Oakland owner Al Davis long has raised money for former Raiders. Davis was not one of the two owners who replied to his letter, Ditka said.
“I don’t even know if they [owners] got the letter,” he said.
Also Wednesday night, Ditka said he had dinner with a team owner in another sport. That owner pledged $100,000 to GGAF. He declined to identify the owner.
“Don’t ever mix up perception and reality,” Ditka said. “These guys played the game the way the game was supposed to be played and didn’t make a lot of money. . . . And yet every time they go to ask for benefits, it’s like they have to take on the creator. We want to fix that.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to address the issue today at his inaugural state of the league address. He was not available for comment Thursday.
NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw strongly denied any wrongdoing or lack of support by the union for former players. He said the union has disbursed $1.2 million in benefits to 147 retired players. Only 12 were denied benefits.
Aware of complaints that old timers’ pensions are too meager, he said many ex players began taking their pensions at age 45 and that when Social Security payments kicked in two decades later, the pensions were, by agreement, cut back.
“For anyone to say that Gene Upshaw and the NFLPA does not care about retired players is not responsible,” Upshaw said. “They don’t know the record; they don’t know the body of work.”
He said former players have asked for the same pensions available to current players.
“That’s not going to happen. That’s never going to happen,” he said. “The economics won’t support it.”
The issue of former NFL players needing financial and medical assistance hardly is a new one. The story of former Pittsburgh center Mike Webster, a Hall of Fame player, came to light a decade ago. Crippled by the constant banging during his career, Webster became homeless before former players rescued him. He died of a heart attack in 2002, and his family sued the NFL for benefits the league had denied him. They won $1.5 million.
Kramer and Ditka have no idea how many ex players are out there who need help. Kramer said he believes as many as one third of retired players need extra assistance.