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Retired NFL Players Fight to Take Back Control of Alumni Association.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;}     In 1967 the National Football League (NFL), out of a growingconcern for “taking care of their own,” had the foresight to create and fundThe NFL Alumni Association whose sole mission “is to provide for the generalwell-being of retired NFL players.”   TheNFL Alumni Association was mandated to offer the retired players post-NFLcareer counseling, healthcare, and help them (the retired players) addressincome and disability issues.   Thevisionaries who created the NFL Alumni did so even before there was a NFLPlayers Association (which was formed in 1977)   indicating that the needs of retired playerswere well known and addressed early on. However, over the years, the NFL AlumniAssociation has NOT made a difference for many retired players; moreover thepercentage of retired players that are leading healthy and successful lives isstill rather low and not getting much better. Their bodies beaten and battered,their money drained by scammers and bad investments, retired players are facingenormous hurdles that can only be addressed and reduced by a centralized wellrun alumni association that adheres to the original mission its founderscreated it for.   In taking stock of its assets at the time of the creation ofthe NFL Alumni Association, the NFL saw that the NFL logo and shield is andwill continue to be a powerful symbol in American culture and can be used tobenefit the retired players for years to come. In order to support the NFLAlumni Association and the retired players, the NFL allowed The NFL AlumniAssociation to use the likeness of the NFL shield in the creation of its logoto symbolize and show that the shield truly represents the league and theplayers who played in the league and made the NFL the sports powerhouse that itis today.   The intention of enabling thispowerful symbol to be used in this way was solely for the benefit of the retiredplayers.   However, it seems that the currentadministration of the NFL Alumni Association has misdirected the use of thelogo and the power (and revenue) that comes with it.   Using it purely for their own gain and notfunneling any of those benefits to the retired players who in essence are thetrue owners of this very valuable symbol of American sports   culture.   Today the NFL Alumni Association is now The NFL AlumniAssociation, Inc. headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with 26 chaptersthroughout the United States.   Once theNFL Alumni Association morphed into its nonprofit status, its original missionof “taking care of their own” has been diluted and changed significantly.   The NFL Alumni Mission Statement from theirweb site from 1997 through just recently was “The NFL Alumni is a charitableorganization composed primarily of former professional football players guidedin their volunteer efforts by the motto “Caring for Kids.”   The NFL Alumni’s secondary objective is to help its own by offering support toformer pros experiencing financial or medical hardship.”   According to their listing in Wikipedia (created in 2007),“The NFL Alumni is a 501 (c) (3) charity that is composed of former NFL players and associate members who work voluntarily to raise funds foryouth-oriented causes and engage in hands-on service to foster the developmentof "youth through sports and sports through youth." which once againclearly demonstrates the intentional redirection of the original mission . The question becomes how did the retired players, and theirneeds become a “secondary objective” of the NFL Alumni Association? The answercan only be to facilitate the clear misdirection of funds away from the retiredplayers.   Believe it or not, it is a fairly well known statistic thatonly 2% of all former NFL players succeed and thrive when their playing careeris over.   Given today’s giant salariesand mega deals it is hard to believe but true. When the salaries startedgetting large, over spending, bad investing and mismanagement were the norm.Today’s and tomorrow’s players face the same hurdles as their previouscounterparts just with different numbers. The fact is that the sports public atlarge holds these athletes to a test that make them seem superhuman – both onthe field and off.   However, as we haveseen in many instances (too numerous to name) the contrary is true.   It is only recently, and primarily due to pressures from theNFL Commissioner’s office, that the Florida based NFL Alumni Association hasattempted to put a band aid on this gaping wound.   On the current web site for the NFL AlumniAssociation national office ( www.nflalumni.org )the mission statement has recently changed to read “The NFL Alumni is anonprofit organization composed primarily of former professional footballplayers who have joined together to advocate for key issues affecting retiredplayers such as medical, financial and career-transition needs while alsosupporting youth charities.”   The retiredplayers view this as a fairly lame attempt for a chameleon to change its colorsduring a time of controversy and pressure.   It is painfully unclear how raising funds for youth shouldovershadow the needs of the retired players especially for an organization thatwas created specifically for the benefit of the retired players. There is nodoubt that retired players are great at raising funds and working with youngpeople, but the concern here is still going back to the dilution of theoriginal mandate of the organization which is to take care of their own,especially in these times of great healthcare challenges.   And, according to many of the retired playersand chapter personnel (the dues paying members of the organization) they aregetting no health benefits or post football career opportunities whatsoever(from the NFL Alumni Association).     As a matter of fact, it seems that the only ones benefitingfrom the NFL Alumni Association, has not been the retired players, but theadministrators of the Association themselves and this unfortunately has been awound that has been festering among the retired players for many years and hasculminated in a great rift and dissention between the membership and theadministration (which is comprised of non retired players) that controls theNFL Alumni Association.   According to Jerry Sisemore, Past President and currentTreasurer of the Austin Chapter of the NFL Alumni Association “The problem withNFL Alumni Association, Inc.   that isdisturbing to me – we (the members) are not making a nickel.   We put these people in a leadership positionto support the retired NFL Players.   Iwould hope that the books would be transparent especially as a dues payingmember. Why do we as a membership struggle to get our questions about fulldisclosure of expense accounts and salaries for Frank Krauser and the entireadministration answered?   If there isnothing to hide then why are our questions not being answered?   The more I try to get involved the less I amwelcome.   I just don’t think we areheaded down the same path.   The currentleadership is not interested in comments from the general membership or thepublic.   It is like they don’t want whatthey have to be messed with.”   In a recent post from his blog regarding the NFL Alumni Association and itsrestructuring, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raider Dave Pear (who isdisabled) wrote; NFL Alumni Restructure: “ The Board will consider an appropriatetransition role for Frank Krauser given his length of service to the NFLAlumni. ” What?!!   Distinguished by definitionis, “marked by excellence.”   Does thatmean Frank is still on the payroll? What about his Super Bowl tickets? Expenseaccount? Cigar allowance? In its 2005 tax return, the NFL Alumni had $3.7 million in revenue and gaveout only $800 to one former player in “verified dire need.” Would you call this behavior “distinguished”? Only $800 to one retired player out of $3.7 million in revenue?   One must ask, where is the money going?   Why is there no significant money going tothe retired players, who without their physical and legendary contributions tothe game and the NFL, enable us to have and enjoy today’s great players andheroes?   “Obviously, the NFL Alumni Association, under the guidanceof Frank Krauser is more than suspect in their use of funds.   Large salaries, plush overstaffed offices,trips and perks seem to be the norm rather than putting the resources to theircorrect use – for the retired players”, says Dr. Joseph Profit, former AtlantaFalcon and current President of the NFL Alumni Atlanta Chapter.   In addition to the NFL Alumni Association, there are severalother retired player organizations each with the right purpose in mind butwhich have inadvertently created a disjointed and fragmented group ofineffective organizations that don’t have a unified national voice and are nottruly representative of the retired players, their needs and their wants.   Recently, one of those organizations, Fourth and Goal,spearheaded by former Baltimore Colts and NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Laird, hascome to an agreement to merge with the NFL Alumni Association and help bringthe association back to its original mission of helping and caring for theretired players.   However, it turns outthat this merger is facing blockades more powerful than the Fearsome Foursomenamely -    the current administration ofThe NFL Alumni Association.   “Changingsome words in a mission statement on a web site hardly makes up for the millionsof dollars that have gone into the hands of the wrong people and not theretired players who deserve it most.” continued Dr. Profit.           We as a culture make it a point to preserve history and the historicalfigures that made that history.   Why isthis not true of a sport that provides us with so much enjoyment, pleasure andentertainment?   How can we possibly allowour heroes and legends to wither and die into obscurity?   The answer is a resounding - we cannot!   In this country sports figures have always played a major role in helpingshape the character and attitude of our nation.   These sports figures should share in the prosperity that today’s sportshas become.   It is the responsibility ofthe team owners, the teams, and the NFL itself to support the retired playersin ensuring that their needs are addressed.   The players and heroes of today (and tomorrow) can only exist because ofthose that have come before them and for the NFL Alumni Association to ignorethe needs of these great athletes and cultural icons is akin to turning ourbacks on war veterans.   Only this war wason the football field not the battlefield.   But, the retired players are still strong, maintain fan appeal, arecommercially viable and can continue to contribute to our society.   The retired players are merely asking todetermine their own destiny by being able to have a unified voice, disability,health benefits, and post-NFL career counseling through a national organizationthat was originally created for that very purpose. The call for change from theretired players is loud and clear one can only hope and pray that it will beheard.            

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