Posted on: March 9, 2011 8:49 am

NFL player benefits

One of the big issues in the NFL labor battle is player health. Specifically, player benefits.

The NFL, for the first time ever, will report on a quarterly basis exactly what is being paid out in what it's calling a retired players scorecard. The numbers are interesting and compiled below. I was made aware of them by former player Jeff Nixon.

  • 3,134 retired Players receive a pension for a total annual distribution of $63,774,329.
  • 176 widows and surviving children of deceased Players receive a total annual distribution of $9,809,661.
  • 289 out of 464 eligible Players who applied for NFL disability in 2010 were approved for a 62% approval rate.
  • 836 retired Players receive NFL disability for a total annual distribution of $43,195,4415 years of post-career medical coverage for post-1993 retired Players for a total distribution of $18,734,549.
  • 167 out of 173 applications to the Joint Replacement Program (established in October 2007) were approved for a  97% approval rate.
  • $309,968 in total has been reimbursed for Players’ out-of-pocket expenses associated with joint replacement surgery.
  • 401 retired Players currently receive a $100 per month subsidy through the Medicare Supplement Program with an annual NFL contribution of $450,000.
  • 40,094 prescriptions have been filled by using the NFL’s Discount Prescription Drug Program.
  • NFL Player Care Foundation (formerly known as the Dire Need Fund) approved 247 out 307 applications for a total of $2,340,000.
  • $25,000 maximum life insurance benefit through Vested Inactive Life Insurance.
  • The 88 Plan has approved 151 out of 162 player applications since its inception and has distributed $10,582,765
  • 247 out 307 applications processed by the Player Care Foundation have been approved.  $2,340,000 in total has been distributed to distressed or disadvantaged former NFL Players.

  • $560,000 in total savings to 10 Players who received pro bono or discounted medical services secured through the Player Care Foundation.
  • 808 Players have participated in cardiovascular screenings provided by the Living Heart Foundation and Boone Heart Institute, made possible through a grant by the Player Care Foundation.
  • 558 Players have participated in prostate screenings provided by the AUA Foundation.
  • $2,092,000 in total has been distributed to assist in research geared towards retired Players, including grants to the University of Michigan, as well as to the Boone Heart Institute, Living Heart Foundation and AUA Foundation.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 8, 2011 10:32 am

Jay Feely talks labor

One of the smartest guys in this entire labor battle between the NFL and players is Arizona kicker Jay Feely. Few people on either side are capable of succinctly breaking down the issues with clarity as Feely.

He's a member of the union's executive committee and while there is little Feely can say about the negotiations now because of the sensitivity of the talks he did take time to explain in detail why the recent Judge David Doty ruling regarding the league's network TV deals -- which amounted to a $4 billion lockout slush fund for the owners -- was so critical.

Feely had just arrived in Washington on Tuesday morning when he spoke with CBSSports.com.

"With that lockout fund the owners basically had $4 billion in the bank and we had zero," said Feely. "They had such a massive financial advantage over us. The Doty ruling gave us a chance.

"I've told people that basically it was like the real estate market. One person trying to buy a house has a lot of cash on hand and someone else doesn't. The other part of the ruling was the language Doty used. He stated the actions of the owners was egregious and an attempt to defraud the players.

"I think the next big thing is what the penalty will be. Doty hasn't decided yet."

That is critical and hasn't been talked about enough in the media. Doty could put that $4 billion pool in an escrow account for an entire year, give the players 59.6 percent of it or hold it until a deal is done. None of those options are good for certain owners like Danny Snyder who have gigantic stadium mortgage payments.

"I get what the NFL was trying to do from a business perspective," Feely said. "But it was still wrong and Doty's ruling showed it was wrong. Now we just want to get a deal done. Hopefully that can happen."
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 4, 2011 1:59 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2011 2:07 pm

18-game season remains massive sticking point

The players and NFL have agreed to a seven-day extension of talks. That's the good news.

Now, the bad news. The prospect of an 18-game season remains a massive, if not the biggest, sticking point in the talks between the union and the players, a source with the knowledge of the negotiations told CBSSports.com.

The owners are insisting on an 18-game season and the players, at least for now, simply won't agree to it, the source explained. The owners want an 18-game season to begin next year.

Players are concerned about the health issues and have even brought up the disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalapothy, or CTE, during negotations. CTE is degenerative brain disorder linked to numerous concussions and head trauma. Recently, Chicago safety Dave Duerson commited suicide and agreed to donate his brain to be studied.

Duerson's name has also been discussed during talks, the source stated.

It seems the financial differences -- and they remain massive -- might be easier to fix (might) than the 18-game season issue.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 3, 2011 5:30 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2011 5:58 pm

Hope? Hope. Hope!

Hope at last, hope at last.

Thank God almighty.

There's hope at last.

The league and players will have a 24-hour extension of talks. The news isn't exactly signing an armistice ending World War II on a battleship but it's hope.

A little bit of hope. Just a little. Very little. But we'll all take what we can get for now.

Most in and around football thought we'd be in lockout hell by now. That still could come but by extending the talks and mediation it shows both sides aren't total sillyheads. Yeah, I said sillyheads.

I thought this was Dead Labor Walking but the negotiations have a pulse. A small, barely audible pulse, but a pulse.

Talking has helped. I reported early in the mediation process there was some optimism in the room and the reason why was the hatred and vitriol had been toned down. While the tension is still there -- obviously -- there's been a small amount of cooling so the two sides can stop giving each other the gas face and try to get something done.

So one more day of waiting. I wouldn't get your pants in a bunch but there's some hope after all.
Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: March 1, 2011 11:40 pm

Dead labor walking

Dont believe there's cautious optimism.

Don't believe there's hope.

At least, not now. Not right now.

Several people familiar with the mediation discussions said Tuesday's talks were basically fruitless. That's the word that was used: fruitless.

There was no significant bridge crossed. There wasn't even a half a bridge. There wasn't even a crack in the sidewalk crossed.

Basically, nothing happened.

Is "Survivor" on yet?

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: February 26, 2011 7:10 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 7:48 pm

Player summit planned in D.C.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL players union does plan to decertify next week, CBSSports.com has confirmed with a variety of sources. But that is only part of the news.

Next week numerous NFL players will be at the union headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a sort of high profile union gathering. Players are expected to come into Washington from all across the country.

There are both practical and emotional reasons for this. If a deal is struck before the CBA expires on Thursday the union needs its executive members in town to ratify it. But since the chances of an agreement being reached are same as "Road House 3" being made the players will mostly come to Washington as a sort of union rally.

The union can present these players to the media once mediation, well, fails to broach a deal. The union hopes to humanize their fight. It's actually a smart strategy.

You could easily have faces like quarterback Drew Brees speaking for the union cause daily much of next week.

Both sides will resume mediation on Tuesday.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: February 25, 2011 12:41 pm

Union briefs agents

INDIANAPOLIS -- Union head DeMaurice Smith briefed agents on Friday about the ongoing labor talks. An agent in the room told CBSSports.com that Smith said some progress was made but Smith declined to speak with agents specifically about the mediation talks with the league.

The agent stated Smith declined many questions from agents about the mediation discussions. In fact, the agent said, Smith started the meeting with the specific ground rules he wouldn't talk about the mediation. (First rule of Fight Club: you don't talk about Fight Club.)

It's actually smart of Smith not to discuss the mediation talks. The minute he does with agents, it would get out to the media.

Smith instead spent much of the meeting with agents discussing contingencies if there is indeed a lockout. Agents were told to instruct players to save money and get private health insurance two measures most players have long since done (or tried to do).

Bottom line: a lockout is coming barring a last second miracle. The union knows it. The league knows it. Nothing happened in this meeting changes that belief.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
Posted on: February 22, 2011 6:25 pm

No owners?

A source with knowledge of the NFL and union labor talks confirmed to CBSSports.com no owner has been present in the room during the five days of negotiations.

Which is, well, incredible when you think about it.

I'd like to tell you what I think that means but unlike others who act like they know, I'm not going to.

I will say owners not being present is like the Jackson 5 having a showdown with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger is singing but there's no Michael.

In a way, it's a smart strategy. It keeps things from getting heated since owners tend to lose their minds in these types of negotiations. (See: Richardson, Jerry.) Emotions are kept to a minimum.

But it is extremely odd. In my 20 years of covering the sport and more than a few labor issues, when the union and league met in the past to resolve labor differences, owners were always present. I mean, always. So this is fairly new.

The most important news to emerge is that the owners have moved their March 3 meeting to Washington. Again, not sure what that means.

But a source reiterated progress has been made, albeit a small amount.

Category: NFL
Tags: Labor
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com