Phil McConkey takes aim at NFLPA, Drew Brees

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When retired players sound off about their current financial and/or medical conditions, the blame primarily lands in the lap of the league.  Indeed, the thousands of players who recently have sued the NFL have not (yet) sued the NFLPA, even though the union had a seat at the table from the moment the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee was created in 1994 — and thereafter allegedly covered up the true consequences of concussions.

But some former players aren’t happy with the NFLPA, and one of them sounded off on Tuesday.  Loudly.

Former Giants receiver Phil McConkey, a popular member of the Super Bowl XXI-winning Giants, complained about the union and a high-profile current member of its Executive Committee.

“I see so many of my colleagues suffering terribly,” McConkey told Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton of WFAN.  “And I don’t blame — I really don’t blame the owners and the management.  I don’t.  It’s the Players Association, they’re the ones that should have taken care of the guys that went before them.  And they didn’t, and they still don’t.”

For McConkey and plenty of former players, a comment made by Saints quarterback Drew Brees in 2009 still resonates.

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said at the time.  “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job.  They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place.  And that’s why they don’t have money.  And they’re coming to us to basically saying, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’  In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”

“All [the 1987 strike] benefited were some of the guys of today,” McConkey said.  “There are some guys today that have absolutely no clue and that run their mouths.  And Drew Brees is one of them.

“I know he’s canonized and people think he’s great,” McConkey also said regarding Brees.  “If he got in front of a group of ex-players, I don’t know what would happen. . . .  It’s just — it’s disgusting, but that’s some of the mentality that’s around.”

As to the concussion lawsuits, McConkey thinks the NFLPA should be a defendant, too.  “I don’t understand why they’re not suing the Players Association also,” McConkey said. “I think they’re more responsible than the NFL.”

The problem is that it’s not easy for a member of a union to sue the union.  Also, highlighting what the union knew about concussions tends to exonerate the NFL, since the NFL could then defend itself by saying, “If the NFLPA knew, we didn’t keep it from the players because the players are the union and the union is the players.”

As far as some former players are concerned, the union only cares about the current players.  And that tension will exist for as long as pro football does.

38 responses to “Phil McConkey takes aim at NFLPA, Drew Brees

  1. Thank you Phil. Finally, someone had the stones to call out Drew Brees for the fraud that he is.

  2. You made money for playing a dangerous game and now some of your peers have some after effects. Such is life.

  3. The NFLPA received dues from players to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. It is their responsible in that capacity to look after the players in areas such as wages and physical well being in a work environment. They failed to do that from the very beginning. This goes back to the first day they collected union dues.

  4. Shut up McConkey. I get it if you’re fighting for war veterans that need help, but these are “entertainers” that made a living playing a game. I’m sure all of the players in the 87 strike did it because they cared about future players. How about some personal responsibility?

  5. Sorry Phil. Brees is absolutely right. There’s a whole bunch of ex-players that screwed themselves in some life decisions and it’s not the NFLPA’s job to rescue them. Plus, today’s players make a lot more money because the sport has made a lot more money. I don’t understand the ‘we laid the foundation so we deserve a piece of the pie’ logic. In what other job does that apply? If you work for a company and, years after you retire the business explodes and starts making money hand over fist, do you have a right to a cut of the profit? Um no. Brees also said ‘some guys’. Not all of them made bad decisions. Sure the ex-players helped set the stage for what the NFL is today. But to chastise today’s players with the idea they owe them money for that is crazy.

  6. Unions always feel blame and responsibility lie 100% with the people who own the business, and 0% lie with the individuals who are employed. Personal responsibility as a concept is an anathema to unions, even ones who know their members do something dangerous as a profession.

  7. Brees is 100% right!

    The truth must hurt Phil. Brees is right. So many players, even players today make bad decisions and want someone to bail them out. The only people that would be hurt by these comments are those that it hits home with.

  8. Thank you McConkey. Drew Brees is lost in his stardom. Completely out of touch with real world.

  9. Ironicly the BFLPA told players to take the pension early because football players die earlier than the rest of population. No kidding…

  10. Phil makes these comments as Drew Brees just collected his W-2 where it shows he made 40 mill this yr!

  11. Brees is right, But so is Phil. Both sides are at fault with some of these issues. Firing shots back and forth through the media will not benefit either side

  12. The only thing I like about Ditka anymore is his support of the old, retired player who doesn’t have a pot to pea in or a window to throw it out….

  13. Phil Mcconkey was a nothing player who benefited from playing with some of the best offensive lines in football.

    The only way that McConkey played was because he washed the balls (balls being testicles) of Bill Parcell’s that Parcell let him play. McConkey had little to no talent and was basically a team joke. He was the NFL’s answer to “Rudy.”

    McConkey needs to shut his mouth and thank the heavens that he has an NFL pension because McConkey had no right to even be in the league.

    McConkey was nothing but a jock holder for the real players on that team. Shut up McConkey!!

  14. I agree with McConkey…just because I want to see the NFLPA get sued. That aside, I disagree with McConkey for calling Brees out. Brees is completely correct in what he said about players not spending responsibly.

    Millionares or average joe, we all become bankrupt the same way…by spending more money than we make.

  15. Once you are a member of the NFLPA, you’re a member for life? That sounds odd to me. Normally, once you stop paying dues (which you usually do when you retire), you lose your membership in the union.

    I don’t think former players are unionized so suing the union shouldn’t be an issue.

  16. The retired players should not be poor, brain damaged, and committing suicide. I am sorry, but no matter how you want to look at it that is wrong. The NFL should be taking care of these players, and it would be relatively easy to do so with the amount of money the league generates. Instead of raising ticket prices $5 to pay for new luxury boxes, how about they raise the tickets $5 and give it to all the retired players. They are going to raise them anyway, Id like to see it go to a good cause at least. Its all about greed, nothing more

  17. Like him or not, Brees is 100% right. Its not the fault of any current player or anyone else that these guys made bad life decisions. I’ve made them too. I blame nobody but me.
    There are players playing right now that are dead broke or near broke. Michael Vick went broke by making bad decisions.
    The guys that need to get paid from injury is one thing. What they do with their money is something else.

  18. Oh please, Brees supporters. You and I know that if an opposing player took out Brees on a play, Brees would come back and try suing the NFL over player safety issues while the NFLPA would defend the opposing player. Now, I don’t doubt some truth as to former players making bad decisions. But McConkey is right on the money calling Brees out for his hypocrisy, along with the hypocrisy of the NFLPA.

  19. kimtrouard and pro-Brees commentors,

    Do you have any understanding what the strike in 1987 was about? Do you realize that there was no such thing as free agency? The game has changed tremendously as a result of these players actions.

  20. Who is Phil McConkey? I watched that superbowl, couldn’t tell you if he was on the field, or holding a water bucket on the sideline.

  21. Drew Brees is the biggest dirtbag in the NFL. All he does is think about him self, and make stupid excuses. Only saints fans like him, that tells you something about the guy.

  22. Nothinbutathang, I guess you werent watching that super bowl too closely. McConkey caught a TD pass. And Bree’s is a phony. He lets everyone believe he signed with the Saints to save NO after Katrina. He only went there because that was his best offer after Miami turned him down.

  23. Drew Brees is a huge hypocrite. He is squarely on record expounding liberal/socialist ideology, in essence, he’s a proponent of spending everybody else’s money….yet when it comes to him he holds out for every last nickel, shows total self centeredness, and then gets really stingy with his own bank account. He’s a fraud.

  24. I agree with Drew Brees. The NFL could give “some” of these players enough money to get out of debt and $1 Million dollars and in five years the same guys would be up to their ears in debt “asking” for more help.

  25. torontofalcon says:

    Drew Brees is the biggest dirtbag in the NFL. All he does is think about him self, and make stupid excuses. Only saints fans like him, that tells you something about the guy.
    I’m not a Saints fan, and I love Brees. So there.

    I find McConkey’s rant interesting. Is it purely coincidental that his career was spent with the Giants–whose owner is the biggest supporter of (some say puppeteer of) The Great Roger Goodell Himself Live And In Person–who in turn has had a vendetta going against the Saints?

  26. News Flash!

    You’re not a fan of Drew Brees if you can’t stand him. Move on, we don’t need ya.

    Also – football players get paid millions and millions of dollars to essentially “play a game.” They are aware of the risks of injury to their bodies–bones, joints, ligaments, heads, feet, hands, etc.

    I find it utterly amazing that they play the sport, reap the benefits of money and fame and then have the nerve to say – oh but I got hurt and it’s all the NFL’s fault.

    Guess what – you have FREE WILL to play football or not – no one is twisting your arm. It’s time that you take responsibility for the career you chose, warts and all.

    Just like the rest of us do. Take responsibility for the decisions and choices YOU make.

    I agree that it’s all about what I can get in the end. It’s all about the money – always and this is the deepest pocket to dig into.

    I’m with Brees on this one.

  27. kimtrouard: McConkey is the first player to actually talk about taking responsibility.


    How is it taking responsibility when you’re pointing the finger at someone else?

    No one forced any of these players to play what is at best a physically dangerous game and they KNEW IT before they signed that zillion dollar contract.

    Responsibility rests with the person looking back in the mirror – themselves. They are the ones that chose to take the risk and now they want someone else to pay for their own choices?

    This is exactly what is wrong with our children and our country today. A lack of personal responsibility about choices that we make of our own free will.

  28. Phil who? This guy has been bagging groceries for 20 years and all of a sudden has something to say? Shut up and go cut my lawn. For all you Brees haters, you would give anything for him to QB your team

  29. Okay, let’s try it this way.

    Mike Florio is an amazing football mind!

    All contributors to are wonderfully eloquent football analysts!

    Indeed, is the premier forum for all things football superhappyfuntimeloveit goodness!

    Yet, that does not change the fact that players, past or present do not want a safer game………

  30. Wow! Drew Brees is greedy and a piece of crap for holding out for money. Money that he earned due to his importance to his team. Anyone would do that. Is he supposed to make less money so you might think he is not greedy. How stupid. Also, Brees has done so much around New Orleans to help those that have lost everything and that is not including all the other national charities he is involved in. What a greedy jerk, huh? He came to New Orleans because Peyton believed in him and after making a trip through one of the heavy hit areas in New Orleans, he and his wife felt that they could do a lot to help the city and he has so that is true. It may not be the only reason but it is one of the reasons. Also, if retired players can’t get the medical attention they need then that is a problem but if they are complaining because their pension isn’t enough to live the life style they want to live then oh well. They should have chose another profession and u guaranty if they did choose another profession they would not be able to negotiate or sue for a bigger pension and that is if they would have a pension at all. There are many things retired players can do to make money after football. It may only pay $100k a year but that is more than a lot of people make especially without a professional college degree. The only time I see where a retired position should be taken care of for life is the president. They just started taking care of them for life. They used to not get paid much money at all and get hardly any expense account. Many presidents were broke after their term was up and to keep them from devaluing such a respected position by lending their name to endorsements to make money to survive, they are now taken care of to keep the position respected and not a joke. These guys are just mad because they didn’t invest their money and they never made the amount players make now. So they now just want a bigger check every month instead of working for it. Guess what, I got into my business too late and now it is fizzling out. If I timed it right I would have made a lot more money. I can’t sue anyone. My timing is wrong and now I have to try something else. Also, I spent money like I was going to keep making a lot of it and now I don’t make what I used to make so I should have invested that money instead of spending like I would always be making it. That is my fault for making those bad decisions. Quit crying and blaming others for your mistakes. Obama got reelected so you will have free medical soon anyway. What more do you need? Sorry for the rant. I am just sick of people thinking society owes them something and I am sick of people really over valuing their self worth. McConkey wants Brees to give millions to him for aports cars and mansions instead of building homes for the people of New Orleans who lost everything and live in FEMA trailers. That is pretty much what he is saying. Pathetic.

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