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Tuesday, September 18, 2007 column on The NFL's Retirement System

I have an column on the NFL's retirement system, how it determines and distributes pension and disability benefits, and how the federal government may compel the NFL and NFLPA to rectify what appear to be system defects. Earlier today, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame player Mike Ditka and others testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

My column examines the various legal, economic, and psychological issues at stake, including the structural obstacles faced by ex-NFL players in qualifying for disability benefits, as well as how ERISA largely insulates the NFL's retirement board from judicial scrutiny.

At 3,000 words, I hope my column covers these complex issues in sufficient depth.

Update: thanks to Jonathan Tasini, who is president of the Economic Future Group and who writes for Daily Kos and the Working Life blog, for writing about my column and for providing some great perspective on the issues at play.


Michael, it was an excellent, comprehensive column. Thank you, and well done.

Blogger John Geer -- 9/19/2007 8:11 AM  

It is a shame that a league that generates so much revenue doesn't take care of it's former players. Donal Fehr to the rescue anyone?

Anonymous Brandon Greer -- 9/20/2007 10:16 AM  

Baseball's more generous pension benefits actually make sense to a degree. The fact that NFL careers tend to be short, and come to definitive ends, means that most former players are still quite young when they realize that their playing days are over. Contrast that with baseball, where many people bounce around the minors for years, with occasional brief outings in the majors, and don't find themselves out of the sport for good until they're well into their thirties. It's usually a lot easier to start over in a new career if you're 25 than if you're 35.

Of course the disability issue is much greater with respect to football.

Anonymous Peter -- 9/21/2007 1:17 PM  

This is a clear example of how Gene Upshaw really is not the best person to be running the NFLPA. Upshaw seems to take the road that as long as you're in the league, its great and the league will take care of you, but once you are out, you're on your own. If he really had the players' best interest at heart, like a true union leader should, he would fight for these guys to be taken care of even well after they are done playing.

The fact these guys put their long-term health on the line to build this league into the multi-BILLION dollar entity it is today and for the league to almost turn its back on these guys is appalling.

Anonymous Ryan Kendall -- 9/25/2007 12:00 PM  

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