19 September 2018

NFL Hall of Famers demand health insurance and annual salary

Michael A. Rueda
Partner | Head of US Sports and Entertainment | US

The Chairman of the NFL Hall of Fame Board, Eric Dickerson, sent a letter to league commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and HOF President David Baker demanding health insurance and an annual salary based on a percentage of league revenue. The letter is said to be signed by some of the league's all-time greats, including Jerry Rice, Kurt Warner, Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor and Sarah White, Reggie White's widow. The hall of famers contend that they were, “integral to the creation of the modern NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue.” After leaving the league, many players are often faced with debilitating financial, physical, and emotional issues that the players believe are not being adequately addressed by the league. While the league has had a pension plan in place since 1959, a 401K plan since 1993 and an annuity program since 1998, the hall of famers believe that all living hall of famers are not adequately provided for, in light of the services they provided in advancing the game and its soaring revenues. Insuring every living hall of fame player would cost the league just $4 million annually, or the equivalent of $.03 for every $100 generated. Hall of famers are going so far as to threaten boycotting the annual induction ceremony in Canton. Some of the players believed to have signed the letter have distanced themselves from the issue. The NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, and without a doubt would like to have these issues resolved far prior to then. The issues raised by this letter highlight the financial issues that many professionally athletes face after, and in many cases shortly after, their careers have ended. Safeguarding wealth from an early stage is vital for even those athletes with the longest and most successful professional sports careers.

This article was written with contributions from Tim Piscatelli.

Michael A. Rueda Partner | Head of US Sports and Entertainment | New York

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