This is not getting press, but it's more important than the Commissioner's stance on conduct. It's a signal that the NFL will finally take care of people like Baltimore Colts' Tight End John Mackey, who suffers from Alzheimer's, and other stars who didn't see the millions of dollars the athletes of today get. This is a good story.
FOR USE AS DESIRED FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, CONTACT:
5/22/07 GREG AIELLO, NFL (212) 450-2000
CARL FRANCIS, NFLPA (202) 463-2200
NFL FORMS ALLIANCE TO COORDINATE
MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR RETIRED PLAYERS
The NFL and its related organizations have agreed to work together to support former players in
need of medical care, NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL announced today.
Commissioner Goodell informed NFL clubs at a league meeting in Nashville today that the NFL,
NFL Players Association, NFL Retired Players Association, NFL Alumni Association, NFL
Charities and the Pro Football Hall of Fame will form the first-ever alliance to coordinate medical
support services for former players in need of medical care.
“All of us in the NFL want to help former players that now find themselves in need of medical
care through no fault of their own,” said Commissioner Goodell. “Several NFL-related groups
have been working independently over the years to provide medical assistance, but now we will
work together to identify and help players more effectively in a common effort.”
HAROLD HENDERSON, the NFL’s executive vice president of labor relations, will serve as the
lead executive in this new initiative.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing to help former players with medical needs,” said
Henderson. “We want to do it in a coordinated, structured fashion. There have been ongoing
discussions with GENE UPSHAW (executive director of the NFLPA), and I know he sees this as
a high priority.”
The NFL is exploring a wide range of new ideas to address the medical needs of its former
“We are seeking to determine how we can creatively approach the medical issues of former
players and guarantee their access to high-quality medical care at reasonable cost,” said
Commissioner Goodell. “This is principally directed toward those who are in dire need or can’t
afford the proper kind of care.”
Among the ideas being discussed:
• Better identification of players who need assistance and making the system more
efficient so that help can be delivered to these players.
• Arrangements with facilities in different areas of the country where former players can
obtain high-quality care at a reasonable cost.
• Collaborating with outside service groups to provide players with education and
guidance on obtaining medical care at reasonable costs that would expand access to
care for retired players.
• Ensuring availability of affordable assisted living facilities for former players.
Former NFL players who want to support these efforts will have the opportunity to contribute to
their former teammates by participating in fund-raising efforts, including golf tournaments and
The distribution of funds for medical needs will be managed by representatives of the
The 88 Plan, named after Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN MACKEY, is an example of one
such fund that was created as part of the extended Collective Bargaining Agreement between
the NFL and its players in 2006. Former players in various stages of dementia, including
Alzheimer’s disease, may receive as much as $88,000 annually to assist in their medical care.
In recent weeks, the NFL office has spoken to SAM HUFF and JACK KEMP and several other
former players and the New York Jets’ CURTIS MARTIN for their views on how to address
these medical issues in the most effective way.
More than 900 former players and/or their families have received financial help in recent years
from either the NFLPA’s Players Assistance Trust or the NFL Alumni Association’s Dire Need
In addition, 284 former players are receiving disability payments which total $19 million this
year, including some that receive as much as $224,000 annually.
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