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Mark Murphy, Jerry Richardson make pitch to retired players

Jerry Richardson AP

A couple of weeks ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to all players regarding the offer that the NFLPA* left on the table.  It went over like a lead balloon.  Coated in tungsten steel.  Tied to a big-ass anchor.

Now, Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, both former NFL players, have penned a letter to all retired players.

Agent Ralph Cindrich, a retired player who represents current ones, posted the letter today, via Twitter.

Here’s the full text of it, with our comments interspersed in parentheses.

“Dear Retired Player:  On March 11, the NFL Players Association – which states that it represents players ‘past, present and future’ – walked away from the bargaining table, announced it was giving up its status as a labor organization, and sued the NFL in Minnesota.  As retired players who are members of the owners’ bargaining committee, we have a unique perspective because we understand these issues from all sides.  More importantly, we understand the challenges former players and their families face.”

(Of course, they also have a vested interest in doing the best possible deal for the teams, which necessarily would entail less money going to the current players.)

“The union walked away from mediation, cutting off negotiations on an offer that was made by the clubs to avoid a work stoppage and that would have provided important improvements in retired player benefits.  We know some former players have struggled financially.  This was a real attempt to address those financial concerns.  We are committed to making sure that when we reach a new agreement it better addresses the needs of our retirees.  It’s the fair thing to do.  It’s the right thing to do and it recognizes and respects your contributions to our game.”

(Translation:  We want you on our side as this fight continues.)

“One of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s highest priorities has been meeting with retirees, their families, and those who advocate on behalf of retired players.  Leaders including Mike Ditka of Gridiron Greats, Bruce Laird of Fourth and Goal, and George Martin of NFL Alumni have met with NFL owners face-to-face to discuss issues affecting former players and their families.  We have developed a constructive relationship with these men and others who promote the interests of retired players.  Our bargaining proposals reflect the concerns we have heard, and we want to help.”

(Translation:  We really want you on our side as this fight continues.)

“George Martin was invited to speak to NFL owners at our recent league meeting in New Orleans.  He again stressed the need for increased pensions and other improvements for retired players.  George also reported to his board and chapter presidents that his subsequent meeting with the NFLPA-Retired Players Group in Florida did not go as well.  In a letter to his board, he described the atmosphere as ‘defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful.'”

(The letter doesn’t mention that the NFLPA* has legitimate suspicions regarding NFL Alumni, given that it has received a seven-figure loan from the NFL.

“It is important to us that you know the facts about what we offered the union. Among the elements of our March 11 proposal that would have improved benefits for former players are the following:

“A new pension supplement for retired players aged 55 or above. This supplement would give more than 2,000 retirees an immediate increase in pension payments averaging almost 60 percent.

“Improvements in the Disability Plans and the 88 Plan to ease the qualifications for disability benefits and increase the value of those benefits to qualifying retirees.

“Expanded career transition programs to assist former players in developing second careers, both in and out of football.

“A new rookie pay system that would re-allocate more than $300 million per draft class to fund benefits for current and retired players.

“These are significant offers that would have a measurable impact on the people who made football great.  Sadly, the players’ union wasn’t listening.”

(More accurately, the players’ union didn’t like the league’s proposal regarding the core issue in the labor battle — the annual sharing of revenues.)

“Nobody, least of all Commissioner Goodell and the owners, is pleased that negotiations broke down and that a work stoppage has begun.  But even though current players are locked out, the clubs will fully honor their commitments to you.  You didn’t cause this dispute, and you won’t have to pay for it.

“This means that despite various reports or comments to the contrary, there will be no reduction in any retiree benefit programs.  We will continue to make all pension payments and contributions.  If you are currently receiving post-career medical benefits, you will continue to do so.  There will be no reduction in payments or coverage under the disability plans or the 88 Plan.  And we will continue to accept applications from retired players for all benefit plans.  We’re serious about our commitment to you and we will keep our word.”

(These two paragraphs go to the heart of the lawsuit filed last week by several former players, who pointed out that the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan may be terminated one year after the expiration of the CBA.)

“For example, you asked for greater access to long-term health care, and so we recently instituted a new program to provide long-term care insurance for retirees.  Because the union refused to participate, this insurance program is being funded entirely by NFL owners.  Transamerica Life Insurance is now contacting retired players to solicit applications.  Coverage may also be available to your spouse at a reduced premium.

“Further, the NFL will maintain the benefits available through the NFL Player Care Plan.  The plan provides joint replacement and assisted living benefits, a discount prescription drug card, neurological and spine treatment programs, a Medicare supplement program, and vested-inactive life insurance.  We did this to improve your quality of life off the field because you gave so much on the field.

“An independent organization primarily financed by the NFL owners, the Player Care Foundation (PCF) was established to improve the quality of life for former players through financial grants and research. PCF provides monetary grants to former players experiencing financial hardships, including grants to those who need assistance in paying for the costs of Player Care Plan programs such as joint replacement, spine treatment or neurological care.  PCF also sponsors cardiovascular and prostate screening programs.

“For information regarding any of the above retired player benefits, programs, and services, please call the NFL Player Benefits Department at 1-800-NFL-GOAL (1-800-635-4625).

“We want you to be fully informed, and to know the facts. The NFL Players Association recently stated that NFL owners contribute nothing to the pensions of former players. (DeMaurice Smith on WFAN Radio in New York: ‘How much money do the NFL teams provide to the former player pensions? The answer is zero.’)  In fact, in the past 10 years alone the NFL owners have contributed $2.7 billion to the funding of benefit plans for current and former players.  On March 30, NFL owners paid almost $180 million to fund pension, disability, medical and other benefits for the 2010 season.

“Commissioner Goodell and the owners are prepared to resume collective bargaining immediately.  The longer we wait, the more economically difficult it will be to reach an agreement.  When we do resume negotiations – and we will – our top priorities for a new agreement will include the benefit improvements described in this letter.  We do not know what the NFLPA may seek for current players, but we will not set aside your needs.  Your voice needs to be heard, and we will listen.”

Obviously, the goal of the letter is to marshal support from retired players, so that more of them will choose to publicly chime in on the situation, like former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski recently did.

“I’ve been around long enough to understand that present-day players, they don’t understand what the guys went through in [past players' strikes]. . . . Quite honestly, I don’t think they really give a damn about the guys that laid the foundation for the game.  I think it’s a lot of verbiage, but I don’t think they really care.”

The letter from Murphy and Richardson is aimed at creating the impression that the teams “really care.”  Even if the goal is to simply get the retired players to side with the teams.

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22 Responses to “Mark Murphy, Jerry Richardson make pitch to retired players”
  1. dldavidlong says: Apr 4, 2011 6:45 PM

    who cares anymore? im tired of the p.r. game. the owners are going to win this regardless of what side you are on.

  2. handlethehandles says: Apr 4, 2011 6:47 PM

    Sorry Players… when your classy you win… or when you hire people who teach you what to say you look smart..

    1 point owners… -5 points players

  3. alxln says: Apr 4, 2011 6:48 PM

    Even if the owners don’t “really care”, at least they PROPOSED something to make it better for retired players, unlike the current players who only think about their portion of future revenue and won’t give a cent of their own money to retired players…

  4. iknowfootballandyoudont says: Apr 4, 2011 6:51 PM

    Hmmm.
    The owners threw it down right there on the table.
    What have MEmaurice and his band of blind followers done?

    The great ambulance chaser wont even meet with George Martin. Drew Brees insults the great players from the past and when the public sentiment turns against him he comes out with a full line of crapola that simpletons like duanethomas gobble up.

    Brees is spinning propaganda and trying to convince the simpletons that he he attached his name to the lawsuit on sits on the negotiating committee cause he is only out to benefit past players and future players but not himself.
    The owners are the only party that has negoatiated, attempted to negotiate, reached out to players, reached out to retired players.

    What has the players “association” done.

    Well lets see, they cried for months about wanting to see financial numbers. The owners finally offered to them and they said oh nevermind.
    The players and DREW BREES turned down an offer that increased retirement and health benefits to past players.
    The owners turned in a new counter proposal, but the players ran to decertify instead of answering the proposal with a counter.
    The players struck first, the owners had no choice but to declare a lockout.
    I guess those spoiled, greedy players are still spoiled and greedy.
    With guys like Drew Brees on the commitee, the owners are gonna get a damn good deal . Can’t wait till Sam Huff calls out Brees as a spin doctor liar that I am calling him. Hopefully Huff will say it with a right hook to Drew “phoney” Brees

  5. alxln says: Apr 4, 2011 6:51 PM

    “(DeMaurice Smith on WFAN Radio in New York: ‘How much money do the NFL teams provide to the former player pensions? The answer is zero.’) In fact, in the past 10 years alone the NFL owners have contributed $2.7 billion to the funding of benefit plans for current and former players”

    Another example of how well informed D Smith is about the whole situation…..

    During this whole debate, I’ve only seen facts from the owners side, and a whole bunch of BS from the players and D Smith.

  6. CKL says: Apr 4, 2011 6:58 PM

    I cannot get over the fact Smith just blithely answered that question about pension contributions so incorrectly. He lives to incite not negotiate. He hasn’t served his players very well.

    Perhaps the players realize that as well which is why we have heard exactly 0 from Mr. Smith lately and more from them directly. IMO, they’ve done a better job talking on their own behalf than Smith EVER did.

  7. iknowfootballandyoudont says: Apr 4, 2011 7:02 PM

    I think its pretty clear which side has been attempting to get a deal done and which side is hoping the courts hand them a deal.

    The Pied Piper is leading his blind mice towards the cliff and his blind lil greedy rodents keep on following.

    Whats sad is that I used to like Drew Brees, but after saying what he really thought about the past players, and now doing damage control by lying to everyones face, he insulted every past player and the fans. The only truth I have been reading has been coming from the owners side.

    So sad that these ungrateful, overpaid, illmannered, uncivilized, unapologetic, pants on the ground wearing, dope dealing, woman beatin, gold tooth wearin, non bill paying, bling wearin, beer stealing players wont act like men and stand up, tell the truth, own up to your jacka$$ behavior and spend less time lying and more time negotiating.

  8. cletusvandam says: Apr 4, 2011 7:23 PM

    sounds like the owners are trying to do the right thing and the players are stealing beer and shooting at people

  9. Packernet says: Apr 4, 2011 7:26 PM

    I guess not quite as cynical as lawyers are, but I think they do care. What can they do if the current players don’t want to give up a piece of the pie for the retired players? The players today don’t care because they think they are set for life and don’t care what they get when they retire. Many will find out just the opposite is true and wish they had done a better deal for themselves when they had the chance.

  10. smacklayer says: Apr 4, 2011 7:27 PM

    PLEASE MF, stop with you commentary. We all know yo uare pro player. We are all adults and we can decide for ourselve the meaning of the letter. Please just report. We all LOVE your site. Leave well enough alone.

  11. realfann says: Apr 4, 2011 7:28 PM

    In my business it’s the company that looks after former employees.

    I’m pretty sure that’s the case in most American businesses. Current employees don’t have to pay pensions or retirement benefits for people that used to work there.

    So why the heck should it be any different in the NFL?

    effing silly letter.

  12. hail2tharedskins says: Apr 4, 2011 7:33 PM

    I love the way you break down in parenthesis what the owners actually mean, I just wonder why you don’t disect the players’ messages the same way?

  13. duanethomas says: Apr 4, 2011 7:38 PM

    Classic divide and conquer by the owners, which in addition to the P.R. campaign is winning public sentiment..now. The last labor fight they divided the current players by having the QB club and high profile guys cross the line. The owners know DeMaurice has done a good job of keeping the players unified. So spread misinformation along with some facts and the ill-informed ex. players will fall for that tactic. Bob Boyd, Mike D. Kyle Turley, all who have fought and testified before congress and raised money for ex players have said nothing. They know the game and will not be used as pawns, like Jaws(works for who again) The general public will not research, they will go off emotions, so whatever the owners run up the flag they will salute. That has been proven in how the owners run up the cost of viewing a game, but the fans will get mad (emotion’s again) but do nothing.

    Two last points…This will be settled in the courts and whoever wins there will get a CBA that favors their side.
    Lastly why the name calling no matter what side you’re on? When this is settled, all the guys you called all these names you and your family, friends, city and state will be back cheering for 100%.

  14. murrman33 says: Apr 4, 2011 7:44 PM

    Everything depends on Judge”s ruling Whoever wins will have the leverage. Lockout will be over by May ..Winning side gets 500 Million more or Less. Players are starting to buckle.

  15. feloniusfarter says: Apr 4, 2011 7:56 PM

    Any 5th grader reading this (except future NFL players, who well, you know…) can see your pro union stance in your side notes here.

    GIVE IT A BREAK! Quit kissing up to the players, we come here for insight on the game, not some canned BS interview w/ players that are readily available at ESPN.

    Stick with what got you here comrade.

  16. raynman49 says: Apr 4, 2011 8:03 PM

    No disrespect to former players, but didn’t they go to college and get a degree? They should be able to work after their short NFL careers are over.

  17. zaggs says: Apr 4, 2011 8:11 PM

    I am so sick of Floor-Boy “Union or die” stance. Who gives a crap if this is just about PR? Contrary to the players the owners are the only people wanting to make the retirees lives better. If the retirees get better healthcare for longer because of the owners proposal, do you think they care if its only so the retirees are on the owners side?

  18. schemefactory says: Apr 4, 2011 8:36 PM

    yeah being formerly working class, then becoming one who represents the bourgeoisie, doesn’t exactly make one a beacon of truth.

  19. thefiesty1 says: Apr 4, 2011 9:08 PM

    Shut Up! Your just as bad as JJ. Where are the Rooneys, Miras, Krafts, et al. Why all the stories on the idiot owners?

  20. glen1904 says: Apr 4, 2011 9:56 PM

    Poor Jerry Richardson paid 206 million for the Panthers in 1993, Forbes valued the team at 1 billion in 2010. That’s a profit of 794 million in 18 years not counting the salaries he paid himself and his two sons. I can see why he is such a hardliner, poor guy deserves more look at all he has done for the game.
    the owners will win this thing, billionaires always win these days in this country. But I wish some of these lousy owners would sell take their teams and take their hundreds of millions in profit and get some new owners in that put winning first like the Rooney’s. They know if you win the money will come, while Richardson and others hardliner owners never have or will win because they are in it just for profit, hell look at the team he fielded last year??!! that says it all about him as an owner.

  21. SpartaChris says: Apr 4, 2011 10:44 PM

    Did Favre get one too, or are they waiting for him to, you know, actually retire for real this time?

  22. axespray says: Apr 5, 2011 11:34 PM

    anyone else think of ron howerd or that MADtv ginger guy when you see Mark Murphy…

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