NFL, union disagree on benefits for retirees

The NFL and its players union are bickering again, this time

over benefits for the league’s retired players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a letter posted on the

league’s labor Web site Saturday that the NFL is committed to its

former players, and that no new collective bargaining agreement

will be made without improving things for them.

He also said the union’s recent proposal to strike a new deal

included no improvements for retired players.

Goodell’s letter, dated March 9, was addressed to Rep. Linda

Sanchez, a California Democrat, who recently asked the commissioner

what the league was doing for former players.

“I have said publicly that there will be no agreement without

improvements for retired players,” Goodell wrote. “On the

contrary, when the union last week informed us that it was willing

to make a new deal under certain conditions, there was no mention

by them of increased benefits for retirees. The union leadership

was willing to make a deal without any improvements for retired


Goodell said the league proposed to the union several months ago

a plan to reduce salaries and bonuses for rookies, and use the

first $100 million of that to cover pensions and other benefits for

former players.

“The union to this point in our discussions has not agreed to

that proposal,” Goodell wrote.

The NFLPA executive committee, holding its annual meetings in

Hawaii, responded by releasing a statement on its site. It said

“truth becomes a casualty” when it reads Goodell’s letter because

its plan is being labeled “disingenuous.”

“Neither the NFL nor its NFL Alumni have decided to get into

the real game to improve retiree pensions and give players more

than five years of health care when they retire, if they are lucky

enough to play four years,” the statement said. “When will the

NFL start paying the former players who built this game for the

legacy it sells?”