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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Fix is In?


By Michael – Louis Ingram


Bernie Parrish, it seems, has been playing defense all his life. From his playing days with the Cleveland Browns, he saw the future in understanding the need to look out for himself and his fellow players down the road.

Parrish would be instrumental in helping to set up the first Players’ Union back in the 1960s – the same one that would morph into the NFLPA and Players, Inc. today. “I got interested in it after I was voted player rep for the Browns in 1960,” said Parrish,” so I’ve been at this a while.

“We sat down and tore a retirement plan out of the hides of men like George Halas, Paul Brown and George Preston Marshall – a buncha tough old buzzards; developed and gifted a pension plan that became what the modern players have now; and baseball followed suit with our premise soon after.

“Fortunately, for the baseball players, Marvin Miller kept the baseball union straight and made it his business to look out for all his people, and Major League Baseball’s pensioners today receive four to five times more money from their sport than football, in spite of the fact we’ve made more money over the same time frame – while Gene Upshaw & (former NFL commissioner Paul) Tagliabue diverted from that path with retired players (from 1982 and back) into other plans for the players that excluded us.

The death of former NFLPA head Upshaw led to speculation a new leader would be sympathetic to a faction of retired players - Parrish among them – and resolve several long – standing issues; as well as a couple which emanated from the recent award of $28.1 million dollars won in a class – action suit spearheaded by Parrish and Hall of Fame defensive back Herb Adderley, now stuck in appeal.

During Super Bowl week the speculation of a new leader narrowed down to two principal candidates – former players Trace Armstrong and Troy Vincent; but the ascension of lawyer/lobbyist DeMaurice Smith to president of NFLPA was a complete surprise to just about everyone – except Parrish.

Parrish revealed on the BASN / blogtalkradio shows, “the Football Reporters Online” and “The Batchelor Pad” hosted by our colleague, L.A. Batchelor that the process in electing Smith, in his opinion, wasn’t on the up – and – up.

“I was in Tampa during Super Bowl week at the Marriott Waterside,” recalls Parrish, “which was across the street from where most of the Super Bowl stuff was happening, and was having a coffee at a Starbucks which was adjacent to the lobby and the Café Waterside when here comes the inner circle of the NFLPA - Richard Bertelsen, Jeffrey Kessler, Clark Gaines, Jack Quinn, etc. They walked right past me, and didn’t recognize me. There were a bunch of fans around, so it was a little loud.

“Kessler, who was eye to eye with me for 7 hours during the deposition in the class action suit, is looking right at me. I was ready to say, ‘So, Jeff – did you bring the check?’ But he didn’t recognize me, and I’m thinking, ‘this guy has got to be one arrogant ass…’

“They all looked dead at me, walked by and then walked into the Café Waterside, which was closed, but the maitre’d let them in and closed the door; he (maitre’d) soon left, and I walked in and sat down at a table right next to them about 4-5 feet away. I’m looking out the window at the Coast Guard gunboats - and I listened for 90 minutes to them talking about several things – including rigging the election and getting Smith enough votes to get him in as Executive Director.

“They also brought in Cornwell as a supposed challenger. At first I thought they were talking about (former Buffalo Bill) Cornelius Bennett, but it was Cornwell, who was on the list of nominees as of January 29.

“So here I’m thinking the judge leaves Berthelsen (de facto Executive Director) and Kessler (lead counsel vs. Retired players) in charge in spite of the fact they ruled their action shirked their fiduciary responsibility to the retired players, instead of appointing a conservator like they did with the Teamsters after we won the lawsuit.

“They had arranged through several phone calls what they called ‘breakout meetings’ with 10 guys and one meeting went 6-0 against them, so they reworked the process.

“They also talked about getting a hold of Mary Moran, daughter of Rep. Jim Moran, who works for NFLPA in Human Resources, saying they needed to get a hold of her right away and she had to make her dad make these calls right away.

“We know he (Moran) called Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Rep. Kendrick Meeks (D-FL) because Troy Vincent had called these congressmen, to insure the election was honest; but Rep. Moran outed Vincent due to the fact there were indications if Vincent had been elected, he would’ve cleaned house and fired his daughter in the wake of that move.

But Rep. Moran outed Vincent not just to help Smith to win the election. Patton Boggs, who is the largest lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., would be seen in a favorable light by NFLPA. So there were more things involved than just trying to have Moran help his daughter keep her job – there’s a lot of politicking goin’ on,” Parrish said.

According to Parrish, Patton Boggs earned $330 million in monies in 2008, and allegedly gave Moran over $2 million, according to an online watchdog concern.

It is because of these discoveries that Parrish is concerned about the direction of the NFLPA with regard to hundreds of millions of dollars owed to the retired players who had their the pension plan “infiltrated” by concerns not in their best interests – as well as the logic of the newly elected Executive Director.

“Well it doesn’t appear that a positive change is gonna happen,” said Parrish, “with Smith saying he was keeping Berthelsen and Kessler; and was ‘happy with the current staff’ – I don’t know how he was able to assess that over 3 days;

“They say they pay homage to us – well, homage doesn’t pay much; we’re owed 100s of millions of dollars because of the collusion between Upshaw, Tagilabue, the owners and Aon Consulting, who controls our plan actuaries; and our salaries are held down by Aon, who was ordered to pay $190 million in restitution to clients in Illinois, New York, and Connecticut – for cheating their customers.”

Parrish went on to imply there is more to this, and he is sending a letter to the new Executive Director to get a first – hand response to what he discovered.

“Smith says his staff is just fine; the same ones who violated fiduciary responsibility in taking care of our concerns. You think AIG’s crooked? Wait ‘til all this comes out.”

BASN will continue to keep you posted on this issue.



Hot Stove Football #2

Hot Stove Football #2: Oh Plaxico oh Plaxico... and why did the NY Jets think they needed Jay Cutler?
By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Managing Partner-Football Reporters Online

The Ny Jets never seem to be happy with what they already have. If they feel that Kellen Clemens will never run the Jets Offense on a regular basis, try trading him for the extra draft pick.Then people will take you seriously when you say you need a QB. Until then, people only see the Jets as further behind the Giants in PSL sales.
I'm not so sure they were ever seriously considered a factor in the "Jay Cutler" Saga. The three way deal between the Broncos, Titans, and the Jets was talked about for all of 5 minutes and then dismissed at least on NY sports talk radio.

The Giants are doing their "voluntary" off season workout program, and 59 of the current roster players are in attendance. Osi Umenoria is confident that his knee is close to 100%. He was also sure that his teammate Plaxico Burress would return to the Giants after getting probation. Guess that one went out the door with the last gasp of winter. Burress was released after he won his case against the Giants to recover his withheld roster bonus of one million dollars(think Mike Meyers' Dr. Evil when you hear that).

General Manager Jerry Reese has not yet made a major attempt at signing a receiver in free agency, but will certainly address that in the draft. The Giants had college prospect Percy Harvin in for a workout last week. but there have to be other names on the radar. One such name should be Cal-Poly's Ramses Barden.before the superbowl no one even knew who he was except for a handful of scouts. Barden is the only receiver in this draft at 6'5" or above (6'5-1/2"-229lbs) and while he is still a bit raw, he has the potential to go a long way in the pros. We wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Barden heard his name called mid to late on day two of this years draft. The other is Rutgers' WR Kenny Britt. I'm not so totally sold on Mr. Britt . Although he is 6'4", he only weighs about 212 pounds, hardly someone who can out muscle larger defensive backs over the middle. He can jump, but would need to learn the mechanics of the "Jump Ball" game in the endzone.

Up In Buffalo, Terrell Owens has already missed a "voluntary" off season work out with his new team of choice. So i ask you, is this the way to start off on the right foot with your new team and coaching staff? I woulkd think you'd want to do everything you can to show the people of upstate NY that you are happy to be there. Sure the workouts are "voluntary", but it is also "strongly suggested" that players attend.

Down I-95, the Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb isn't too happy that so many veteran players are leaving. One media vet tells us that it's been building up to this for years due to poor management on the part of the Eagles front office. You have to feel bad
for Donovan because he puts his heart and soul into trying to make the Eagles a winner. It's shameful that the front office won't give them the tools to do so.

Some of the area college programs have already released their schedules for 2009. The Liberty Cup match-up between Fordham University (Patriot) and Columbia University (Ivy) is sure to be hotly contested as always. Columbia's Head Coach Norries Wilson is one of the hardest working coaches to grace New York City's college football scene in some time. He also gives a great post game press conference no matter what the outcome of the game, and always has a high quality of Insight into all phases of the game. As a college player, coach Wilson played in two bowl games at the University of Minnesota as an offensive lineman. Fordham's head man Tom Massella has been around winning football for years, and while the Rams had a tough 2008, they were the 2007 patriot league champs. Both teams also work hard on the recruitment front each year. Circle your calendars for September 19th at 6pm at Fordham's Jack Coffey field.

The NFLPA elected a new executive director 2 weeks ago named DeMaurice Smith. Mr. Smith is a talented litigator, but has no other football related experience other then being a rabid Redskins fan. So maybe there is some truth to the story that the election may have been "jerrymanded" by player association lawyers Kessler and Berthlesen. At least one retired player who is part of the suit against the NFLPA to recognize the lack of health care benefits to retired players believes it is true, and has gone on record to anyone who will listen. There is even another story that the 28.1 million dollar settlement will be reduced by 50% to the players.

As comedy man Yakov Smirnoff says "what a country this America is"

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