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February 13, 2020
Dear Friend of Advocacy for Fairness in Sports,
 
I hope this letter finds the new year off to a good start for most of you.  At Advocacy for Fairness in Sports, we've been keeping busy with a lot of changes underway.  We've added two features that we hope you'll find interesting and informative, The first of which is "The Blitz.".
 
 
If the name and logo seem familiar to our long-time readers, that's because it's a revamped revival of a feature we ran during our first year or so of publication. 

Instead of a Twitter recap, The Blitz is now an article compilation of links, excerpts, and brief summaries of the most interesting sports-legal stories from the prior week from across the spectrum of sports. The Blitz is published on Sundays and you can consider it "one-stop-shopping" for important matters pertaining to sports and the law.  We feel that it's probably the best FREE sports law digest online and hope you'll check it out.
 

The Docket is the next new feature we'd like to introduce.  In The Docket we allow you to keep up with the cases we're tracking in real-time by adding court filings as we
 
retrieve them.  Due to time constraints, we're unable to write about many of the cases that you'll see posted to The Docket, and many haven't received coverage to be included in The Blitz.  Some of the cases you'll see are brand new lawsuits and some are updates to lawsuits we've been tracking for some time.

You'll also notice some changes in our menus that hopefully will make it easier to quickly find the information you're looking for.  Expect to see a few more site changes over the next few months as we have time to put them in place.  Access The Docket.
Our lead story for this month is the product of an exclusive Advocacy for Fairness in Sports investigation in regard to the NFL Player Disability Plan.  We recently completed an audit of a decade's worth of Form 5500 filings from the NFL Player Retirement and Disability Plan, and there are some serious questions that need to be answered, not the least of which is "Why is the NFL Plan trying to conceal the identities and salaries of its doctors and employees?"

Who Hid the NFL Disability Doctors?

By Sheilla Dingus

Sometimes what you see tells a story.  Sometimes what you don’t see tells an even bigger one.  Both statements are true when it comes to the NFL’s Bert Bell-Pete Rozelle Retirement/Disability Plan.

Players have a very difficult task in qualifying for disability benefits, especially if their injuries are related to their careers, and the most difficult level of all to qualify for is “Active Football,” which means the player became disabled within six months of the end of his career.  Often players leave the game injured and think they’ll get better.  Often they try to rehab for more than six months before they give up and decide to apply for disability, but should they wait six months and a day after their last game, they’ll be forever locked into a lower benefit tier without extensive litigation and often even when they litigate.    Continue reading...
NOTE:  A follow up to this story is in the works.  Be sure to check in on our website for the latest.

For Super Bowl weekend we did a profile of the
1985 Super Bowl Champion, Chicago Bears, then and now.

 
The 1985 Chicago Bears: A Legacy of Glory and of Pain
By Sheilla Dingus and Derek Helling
The 1985 Chicago Bears are considered to be one of the best rosters ever to come together in pro  
 
football.  There was an intense rivalry between head coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan—a rivalry so dysfunctional that it actually fueled the team.  The offense, though thrilling, has been referred to as “aim, fire, shoot,” as alluded to in quarterback Jim McMahon’s line in the team’s Super Bowl Shuffle call to arms, “When I hit the turf, I’ve got no plan.  I just throw my body all over the field.  I can’t dance, but I can throw the pill.” 
 
They won 15 games, only to be foiled by the Miami Dolphins, denying them a perfect season a little over midway through.  Determined that loss wouldn’t define them they did something pretty ballsy.  They announced they were Super Bowl-bound in high style with their iconic Super Bowl Shuffle video, the proceeds of which, they donated to charity. 
 
We heard this article was a topic of conversation among retired players at the Super Bowl this year.  Continue reading to check in with some of the 1985 Bears today.

As if academic fraud wasn't enough, it appears that the University of North Carolina has been engaging in concussion research fraud.  Here's another of our investigative reports.
 
Concussion Research For Sale?
 
By Sheilla Dingus

In June 2019 University of Utah Economist Ted Tatos and Don Comrie of
Neurolabs released a disturbing scholastic paper based on research conducted from documents released by the University of North Carolina as the result of academic fraud.  “Cognitive Disorders Among Incoming College Football Athletes: Legal and Medical Implications of Undisclosed Inclusion in Concussion Research”, published in The Journal of Scientific Practice and Integrity.

The study formed the basis for a 9-month long investigation by The Athletic, a reader-funded site known for premium sports reporting.  The Athletic produced a documentary and an article authored by Christian Red based on the results of their investigation on the tainted research.  Though the academic paper largely flew under the radar until The Athletic published their work on October 8.  Once the information made the leap from academic circles to the mainstream an onslaught of backlash soon erupted.  Continue reading...

In a look at the NCAA, Derek Helling brings updates and analysis on the battle for NIL rights and more for college athletes.

New Jersey’s SB 971 is the Compromise of 1850 Reincarnated

By Derek Helling

New Jersey SB 971, a bill that advanced out of the N.J. Senate’s Higher
   
Education Committee on Thursday is a perfect representation of why these measures on a state level will fail to meet their stated goals. No matter how altruistic and heroic the intents of those who sponsor and support the bills in the disparate states considering similar motions are, the measures will ultimately prove as ineffective as the Compromise of 1850 in United States history.  Continue reading...

If you enjoy a bold and unrestrained mix of sports, culture, law, and politics, you might enjoy Derek's new (free) personal newsletter, The Ninth Circle of Helling.
 

Smart Words "From the Mind of Maurice Clarett"

 
Be Ready When Recess Is Over

Would you go to law school if you only had a 2% chance of practicing law after you graduated? Oh, and you’d be lucky to practice law 3 years, and then you’d need to start over and find a different career.

What about med school? Nobody would go to med school with only a 2% chance of practicing medicine for 3 years and then looking for another job.

So why would anyone go to college, majoring in what I call Eligibility Studies, when even the NCAA admits there is less than a 2% chance of making the NFL, keeping in mind that the average career length is less than 3 years and is getting shorter.

Yet this is what thousands of young men playing bigtime college football have done for decades and are still doing right now. I know because I was one of those guys myself.  Continue Reading...


More Headlines and Features:


NFL Concussion Settlement Reports Reveal Dementia Claims Still Under Siege by Sheilla Dingus

Baylor’s Suspension of 14 Baseball Players is College Sports’ ‘Stranger Thing’  by Derek Helling

Ex-NFLer’s Cannabis Lawsuit May Be Heading To The Supreme Court by Sheilla Dingus

Mental Strength is Physical Strength by Maurice Clarett

Solomon and Owens Carrying On Negligence Claims Against NCAA by Derek Helling

NHL Goes Scorched Earth Against Montador Lawsuit by Derek Helling


Be sure to check out the homepage of our website for stories that didn't make it into the newsletter and to take a look at our new features. 

As you might imagine, all of these documents we use for reporting and share on our site aren't cheap but we do our best to make them freely accessible to the public in the interest of knowledge and judicial transparency.  As always we deeply appreciate when those with the means to do so contribute to our work.  Unlike many other nonprofits and news organizations, we're still quite small, and quite frankly we've taken on a job that many large newsrooms refuse to do because of the time and cost involved.  It's your generosity that enables us to continue bringing you the news that others don't.  As you probably know, many people will read this but few will act.  Please consider being one of the few.  I'd much rather spend my time reporting than fundraising but unfortunately the former needs the latter to survive.

Until next time...
Donate
Best regards,

Sheilla
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