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New NFLPA-Houston Shingle: Business as Usual?

August 25th, 2010 c# Leave a comment Go to comments

Houston, TX (PRWEB) January 22, 2007

The National Football League Players Association is again open for business in Houston-just in time for Super Bowl XLI. Because of organizational disarray and legal pressure from local vendors, the NFLPA shutdown its Houston chapter in 2004. The new office is part of the NFLPA “Retired Players Department,” and is headed up by Barry Redden, President, Robert Woods, V.P., and Ken Coffey as Secretary.

While the NFLPA union chief punts an unprecedented 0 million to the NFL to help pay for a new Jets-Giants stadium in New York, one of the Houston plaintiffs, a single-mom, is still fighting the NFLPA over a three-year old ,000 claim. Gene Upshaw, NFLPA Executive Director, recently said he was willing to cut the NFL player’s salary ceiling by 0 million over 15 years to reduce the (new) stadium’s impact on other teams. He said a new facility would raise salaries on each team by around million a year. (December 7, 2006, - Bloomberg.net -Aaron Kuriloff, Frisco, Texas). Such sweetheart deals add salt to the wounds of Houston plaintiffs, and do little for retired players-particularly linemen.

According to the Barren Study, conducted in 1994, “offensive and defensive linemen had a 52% greater chance of dying from heart disease than the general population. The Scripps Howard Study compared the mortality rates for professional football players with the 2,403 Major League Baseball players who have died in the last century. The comparison found that defensive line football players are likely to die before age 50. The mortality rate of the average population is 77.6 years of age, both male and female. This means that an obese football player dies twenty years earlier!” (© Copyright 2006 by LatinoSports.com).

Publicly refuted by the NFL/NFLPA, obesity within the NFL is a huge problem. “Upshaw came under fire from retired players for comments he made to the Charlotte Observer in a Jan. 16, 2006 article quoting 13 Hall of Famers saying the union and league were not doing enough to help former players with financial and health problems” (July 28, 2006-Charles Chandler, Charlotte Observer). Though shrouded in controversy, Gene Upshaw seems intent on business as usual, as evidenced by inaction in the BET/NFLPA lawsuit (Cause No. 819789, Harris County Court No. 1) involving breach of contract, check fraud and failure to pay a single mom (PRWEB, September 14, 2005 - “NFLPA’s Charlie Taylor Says Single Mom ‘Got Stiffed’” ).

During Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, the woman produced an elaborate BET/NFLPA party at Houston’s upscale Galleria Pavilion, but the NFLPA did not fully pay her. She ended up paying for the entire event, which attracted over 8,500 patrons in one evening. Witnesses say cash collected at the door went into cardboard boxes and counted in a back room. Further, according to testimony by Charles Taylor Jr. (former V.P., Houston Chapter), the chapter paid no federal or state taxes. Should Houstonians and folks in South Florida brace for more of the same? Often, the NFL/NFLPA alliance and in particular, the highly commercialized Super Bowl affair, is not a profit-maker, but a nemesis to small business owners, including some former NFL players and NFLPA members.

Indeed, former NFL players Ronnie Lott and Marcus Allen filed suit against the NFLPA for breach of contract in connection with Super Bowl parties (November 15, 1999 — “Former NFL Stars Sue Union for Contract Breach” http://www.sportslawnews.com). Lott and Allen were partners in Super Bowl Party Inc., which had a joint contract with the NFLPA to produce Super Bowl events. Lott and Allen claim, “The NFLPA reneged on the deal and began to stage its own events.” The NFLPA said they offered Lott and Allen a contract, but they did not sign.

Regardless of the money and covey of lawyers at the disposal of the NFLPA, the Houston businesswoman continues to fight. Why? “Mainly on principal,” she says. “In the wake of Enron, WorldCom and other corporate busts, it’s time for big business to do the right thing, instead of focusing solely on profits and themselves. Just because the NFLPA is supposed to be a non-profit, that does not mean they are ethical and forthright. At least, that’s the question in my case. The gist is if they paid us, they would have to pay other vendors too, so they are not paying anyone—it’s an impasse. If Mr. Upshaw is able to hand over 0 million to the NFL to build a stadium, then he should rightfully take care of us smaller people they already owe. They owe retired NFL players too, especially those with special healthcare needs, not the ultra-rich NFL organization.”

According to testimony and court documentation, the NFLPA failed to stop Charles Taylor from committing fraud and writing bad checks to vendors of the BET/NFLPA festivity. NFL hall of fame member Curtis Duncan, chapter president at the time, resigned due to internal unethical practices and “mistrust” within the Houston chapter. He reported this to headquarters in November 2003—well before Super Bowl activities—but the NFLPA took no action to stop Taylor. Negligence on the part of the NFLPA cost vendors in Houston hundreds of thousands of dollars. When the contractors turned the heat up to collect, the NFLPA dissolved the chapter in late 2004. The NFLPA still claims no responsibility, and yet, Upshaw hands over 0 million in union money to build an NFL stadium in New York.

As far as NFLPA-Houston, former NFL players and NFLPA members went without representation until now. Are they facing another charlatan outfit that will cause more trouble? This introduces a more profound question about “NFL-ism” in America—is NFL ball still a sport? Or is it just political football, big business and profits?

The NFL/NFLPA alliance would have you believe it is more about the sport, but they and the media focus heavily on big business and money, particularly for active franchises, their players and giant TV networks. What about vulnerable retired players and paying fans-what’s in it for them? The true sport of football?

That is debatable.


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