Former Browns lineman Andrew Stewart wins suit for NFL pension

In a rare case of a former NFL player successfully suing to get a pension, a federal judge has sided with ex-Browns defensive lineman Andrew Stewart in his legal case against the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, which provides retirement and disability benefits to eligible players.

A.J. Perez of reports that U.S. District Court Judge William Quarles Jr. ordered the retirement plan to provide Stewart with permanent disability benefits because he suffered leg and hand injuries during his time as an NFL player. Such a ruling is incredibly rare: The only other time a player won such a case against the retirement plan was when the estate of Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster won a judgment in 2005.

“I was shocked, to be honest,” Stewart told “Nobody ever wins these cases.”

At least, nobody except Stewart and Webster. Many former players have complained that the system is designed to make it nearly impossible for players who are denied benefits to demonstrate that the denial was incorrect, but Stewart winning this case is a demonstration that a player can, in fact, get retirement benefits from the plan even if he’s initially turned down. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement adopted last year has also streamlined the process for players seeking benefits.

Stewart played all 16 games for the Browns as a rookie in 1989 but never played in a regular-season game again after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in training camp the following year. He later signed with the Bengals only to suffer a torn ACL in practice, then signed with the 49ers only to suffer a hand injury during practice. He says he currently needs knee replacement and can’t write because of his injured hand, making it difficult to find work. His legal victory will get him up to $6,000 a month in additional benefits.

6 responses to “Former Browns lineman Andrew Stewart wins suit for NFL pension

  1. Investigators found out that in fact, Andy couldn’t write because he attended college on a football scholarship, but that wasn’t enough to discredit his case.

  2. So to recap, a player is immoral and a cheat if he takes extra benefits because he’s getting a “free education”….but we can make jokes about how they don’t know how to write since they went to college to play football. Gotcha.

  3. For those not in the know, the federal law that deals with this is ERISA and the NFL retirement plan is far from the only one that makes it nearly impossible to win in court. In an appeal I did, I cited to the Court a bar publication called”ERISA: License to Lie, Cheat, and Steal.” It is a joke of a law that should be repealed.

  4. @jim5283

    Thank you. The only education these college players have is mostly from their PRE college education. Those guys are their to play football with slim to no hope of being a pro. The majority of the ones who make pro make less than 600 or 700k their entire career.

  5. If any of you who make ignorant comments took a second to read the case law on this ruling you would realize how uneducated you sound. Oh wait…. maybe your not educated enough yourself to read let alone understand case law. Sucks to be you!!!

  6. Good for you Andrew. That makes a total of TWO ex NFL employees who actually have received their earned benefits.

    In response to “thegreatgabbart”, attending college on a football scholarship in essence means the football program owns you for 62% of your time. Yet you are still required to complete the same course studies in the same amount of time as “normal” students.

    There are no free educations, and definitely NO benefits period for injured NFL employees. I know. I’ve survived 9 emergency VP shunt brain surgeries, several gran mal seizures, 3 knee operations including an experimental GoreTex ACL transplant they don’t do anymore, was diagnosed with fractured C6, C7 and S8 vertebraes 6 years post NFL career, was forced to sue for Workers Comp just to get brain surgeries #2 and # 3 paid for (which occurred 10 hrs apart, 4 months after we won Super Bowl XVI and I was given last rites), and I STILL don’t qualify for any NFL benefits.

    Despite all, and the fact I survived 4 of my brain surgeries during a 10-month period in 1987 while completing Organic Chem, Bio Chem and my second semester of Physics, we still hear from experts like “thegreatgabbart”, who lack the male organs to sign with their real name.

    I’m just a lowly brain damaged ex NFL DT, wildlife biologist/environmental consultant, but I would love to hire someone as astute as “thegreatgabbart.”

    NPR: A Brain, A Life, Battered by Football

    Video interview Stockton Record

    Channel 13 CBS Sacramento May 2, 2012

    Wildlife Biologist – The Visger Group
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

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