Monday, April 11, 2011
Dignity After Football
Those who have read this blog know my feelings about the NFLPA, an organization as greedy, underhanded, sleazy, and willingly blind like the NFL itself.
An organization presided for year by former player Gene Upshaw, who screwed over his brethren at every opportunity. Even his own teammates that helped him win championships and other personal glories.
When Upshaw died, few tears were shed by former players.
Now the NFLPA is being run by an ambulance chaser who point blank told a former Redskin, a team he supposedly is a fan of because he grew up in the District of Columbia, that things would be "business as usual".
This means thousands of people who dedicated their lives to the game are basically brushed aside and forgotten. The same people who made professional football a billion dollar empire that has so much power, it had their blackout rule pass through Congress, the House of Representatives, and White House in one day.
You don't even see declarations of war get done that quickly.
Yet there are brave people who have tried to let the public know the sordid side of the NFL, even knowing that the machine would be there to try to block them at every turn.
Men like the Joe DeLamielleure and Mike Ditka are Hall of Famers who have long been vocal about the lack of support their brethren get medically, financially, and spiritually.
Bruce Laird, Jack Kemp, Tom Addison, Ricky Harris, and many more, have also tried to get the NFLPA to at least give respect to those who made the game what it is today.
While there is a lock out, the NFL is giving lip service about player safety for the first time since the league was born in 1920. The countless amount of players who left the game permanently damages and forgotten by the NFL would take more than just a calculator to recall.
When I was calling ex-players to garner support for Chris Hanburger's induction into Canton last year, I was astonished to find many players suffering for Lou Gehrig's Disease.
It seemed the amount of gridiron legends stricken with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was far more prevalent with NFL players than any other sport or other lines of work.
As we learn more about head injuries with the advances of science, we start to understand better the hell men like Mike Webster, Jim Tyrer, Andre Waters, and others went through just before their deaths.
I also encountered many ex-players with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in my Hanburger quest. While some players were unable to converse, some lit up at the mention of the game they love and held lucid discussions recalling the time they sweat and bled for the NFL.
This is why the work DeLamielleure, Laird, Ditka, and others are so very important and MUST be supported by anyone who claims to be a fan of football.
But I want to tell you about the work of BRENT BOYD.
Boyd is a former offensive lineman with the Minnesota Vikings for seven years. He has testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee on how this former starter is a single father who found himself homeless because he suffers from brain injuries brought on by several concussions.
He still suffers today from depression,headaches, dizziness, and fatigue from his post-concussion disorder. But it has not stopped Boyd in his fight to get the NFL and NFLPA to take care of their own.
He runs Dignity After Football, an organization that tells the stories of players like him still hurting after retiring.
DeLamielleure, Kenny Easley, Wayne Hawkins, Dave Pear, Ed White, Jeff Nixon, Delvin Williams, and Jerry Shirk are just a few ex-players supporting this mission and offer their own stories on this site.
The work Boyd is doing is needed. The NFL pockets every penny possible, which is tax-free. The NFLPA is their puppets who have never shown interest in former players. Boyd terms it "Upshaw Thugocracy", and this mode is still running today.
"The bottom line is I don't work for them. They don't hire me and they can't fire me. They can complain about me all day long. They can have their opinion. But the active players have the vote."
This infamous quote by Upshaw is exactly the mission DeMaurice Smith continues. Smith never played the game and he recently pulled a stunt by decertifying the NFLPA because of the lock out, yet he has shown the Upshaw message remains.
The message of a puppet working for team owners who seemingly treat players like product instead of human beings. Product used to fill their pockets by any means necessary, even if it costs lives.
Please visit Boyd's site and sign his petition. Even if you have no interest in a player once he leaves the game, much like the NFL and NFLPA, then do it because you are a fan of the game.
A game that has cost humanity much more than mortality can acknowledge.
If you want a taste of how the NFLPA works against even their own employees, then read this letter from someone who spent years working for scum like Upshaw.
I am a former employee of the NFLPA (1983-1988 and 1999-2003). I worked in the Special Events/Licensing (1 yr), Research(4 yrs), Legal Departments (4 yrs) and the Financial Advisers Program (detail 6 action. I would not accept intimidation and pursued my rights. 10 years of administrative and legal maneuvers followed. I was reinstated to my job in 1997 - NFLPA refused and in 1999 I returned via court order. I worked on the 7th floor but could only get access up to the 6th floor because the NFLPA refused to give me an elevator key and office keys.
Thus, I was required to walk up the public stairwell without a choice for approx. 20 months. (morning, noon and afternoons) I received an e-mail that the reason for no keys was because of my Title VII litigation and union activity.
I was fired in 2003 after my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly. NFLPA mgt. actually expected me to call or come to work on the day of the funeral.
You will be astonished to hear the details of my plight. They sued my 1st arbitrator and boycott the hearing.
NFLPA mgt. refused to honor the decision and retaliated against me through work conditions, monetary considerations, etc. (judge, jury, prosecutor) The 2nd arbitrator was the former executive secretary and past chairman of the NLRB. The NFLPA has the largest settlement against the NFL in the history of the NLRB. NFLPA mgt. and its representatives distorted the truth during arbitration, to EEOC and the US District Court. NFLPA mgt. denied receiving documents that I had confirmation receipts, denied receiving phone calls that I have phone records ofs.)
I have been involved in 20 years of litigation with the NFLPA regarding Title VII violations and Union activity. In 1988 I was reduced in force and told that I would be fired if I filed grievances or took it, distorted the context of conversations - that I have documentation for, disparaged the reputations of the arbitrator, medical professional, sued and taxed the finances of the union that represented the staff and burdened the attorneys that represented me. Thereby stressing my relationships with my own representatives.
Effectuated unfavorable decisions against me through unfathomable misrepresentations. I was entitled to Family Medical Leave but received no assistance during my family crises. I was fired for excessive and unexcused absences when my job should have been protected like the professional organizations that extended that consideration to my 3 siblings.
It's no wonder that I didn't have permission to deal with my loss and overwhelming grief. I didn't have the NFLPA's permission to return to work in 1999.
In Feb. 2002, until satisfaction thereof, the NFLPA had to pay over $400,000 in Title VII fees to my attorney (not me). My firing in April 2003, and the subsequent fiascos - grievance meetings, arbitration, EEOC and Federal Court - were done in retaliation and were discriminatory.
The actions that I have experienced are unethical and unprofessional at best and at worst - well look at how you all and Congress are being treated. Deja vu.
Litigation is pending - the judge allowed discovery, subpoenas were issued, deposition was held, status - waiting for trial date. The union (Local 2) is not responding.
I am not surprised by their exodus - after all - how could this union have allowed me to walk up a public stairwell for 20 months?
Regretfully submitted, I hope to have a favorable resolve to the moral indignation that I have experienced from this "professional and caring" organization. NFLPA mgt. has spent money in order to destroy my life. It is vindictive and unacceptable.
I returned to work at the NFLPA with the expectations of professionalism. NFLPA mgt. purposely created a hostile environment. My career in sports and union affiliations have been derailed.
I have a Master degree in Urban Planning, Paralegal certificate and years of experience in many areas. I am a wife and mother of two children (11 and 15).
Your support is welcome.