Sayers challenges NFL players to assist retirees
Gale Sayers sent a stern message to NFL players, challenging
them to help those who paved the way.
”Some players of today’s game think that they made the game
what it is today. I beg to differ,” Sayers said Friday night at an
event hosted by the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. ”The players
who are playing today are standing on the shoulders of those who
made the game what it is that played the game for peanuts.
”If today’s players cannot help these players, shame on
The former Chicago Bears running back was honored along with
retired stars such as Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau and 1997 Super Bowl
MVP Desmond Howard.
NFL players asked a federal appeals court earlier Friday in St.
Louis to declare the lockout illegal almost three months after it
started. A lawsuit filed by current players against the league has
been amended to included complaints from retirees led by Hall of
Famer Carl Eller.
Hall of Fame player and former Chicago coach Mike Ditka said
before the dispute can be settled to save the season, both sides
have to be willing to negotiate at the bargaining table instead of
trying to make legal arguments in court.
”You can’t let egos get in the way of negotiation,” Ditka
said. ”You have to give to take.”
The two sides are trying to figure out how to share the NFL’s $9
billion in annual revenue.
”It’s kind of goofy. The American public can’t feel sorry for
either side because they can’t relate.”
Retired players are pushing for better pension and health
benefits from the league and players in the next collective
”If they want to fix the pension for former players, all they
have to do is match what baseball does for their former players,
they have the best pension in all of sports,” Ditka said. ”I’m
fighting for the disability and the medical help that we need. One
thing the current players should be fighting is for medical care
for after their careers. Not for five years, but for 20, 30, 40
years. We’re finding guys who are 50, 60, 70, they’re suffering
from head injuries and everything else.”
The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund has contributed more than
$2.5 million over the past four years in financial and medical help
for retired players.
LeBeau, defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was in
the same room at the gala dinner with one of his players,
linebacker Larry Foote.
During the lingering lockout, NFL employees are not allowed to
communicate with players.
”I can talk to Larry – just not about football,” LeBeau said.
”It’s not uncomfortable for me because I learned a long time ago
not to worry about things that are not in my control.”
Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund:
Larry Lage can be reached at http://twitter.com/larrylage