Owners Add $10 Million for Needy Ex-Players

October 25, 2007

The New York Times


PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 24 — N.F.L. owners voted unanimously Wednesday to commit $10 million to a program that will help pay for joint replacements, cardiovascular screenings and assisted living care for retired players in financial need.

The money is in addition to the $7 million given in May by a coalition of teams, the players union, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the league’s alumni association.

That coalition, known as the Alliance, was formed to address concerns about medical care for retirees, particularly those who did not make a lot of money during their playing careers and now endure the devastating physical effects of their sport.

The medical-care fund will be supplemented by players’ fine money and by other contributions.

The N.F.L. and the players union have been criticized by a number of former players, including Mike Ditka, over their treatment of retired players in need. The former players have especially criticized the union chief Gene Upshaw for focusing too much on current players.

The program approved Wednesday was created to try to help players who could not afford top-notch care for an array of problems that frequently afflict them.

The joint replacement operations for hips, knees and shoulders will be available at no cost to retired players without insurance or with financial need. The money does not affect funds for the players’ pensions, another point of contention.

“We’re continuing to work on the other needs of retired players,” N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell said as the two-day meeting of owners was completed. Goodell is expected to meet with retired players in December.

Many older retirees played when there were few lucrative contracts and less-sophisticated medical care for their injuries, especially concussions.

Those players argue that they paved the way for the rich contracts given to younger players and are receiving little support now that their health is declining and their finances are being drained.

Until the campaign for better treatment began, the plight of older players was often invisible to fans used to hearing about lavish contracts.

One owner acknowledged with a joke the dichotomy between the wealthiest retirees and those who need help.

“The reason I was for it is guys like Jerry Richardson and Matt Millen; they’re down and out and needed help,” the Steelers’ owner, Dan Rooney, said laughing, referring to the Carolina Panthers’ owner and the Detroit Lions’ president, two former players who certainly do not need financial assistance.

INVESTING IN RAIDERS Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders’ majority owner, has sold a minority stake in the team to three investors, according to Sports Business Daily. The terms of the sale, which was approved by N.F.L. owners, are unknown.

The investors will have no say in football decisions and there is no option for the three businessmen — Paul Leff, David Abrams and David Goldring — to buy the team outright if Davis, 78, dies.

STADIUM PROPOSALS The owners also heard updates on proposals for new stadiums in Minneapolis, San Francisco and San Diego.


~ by Sactown Raider Boosters on October 25, 2007.

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