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October 10, 2022
 
Dear Retired NFL Players, Families, and Advocates,
 
It's not too late to register for the NFL Concussion Settlement Zoom tomorrow evening at 8:00 PM ET.  If you would like to submit questions the committee will do their best to work them in. 
You should also be aware that the NFL did not want this Zoom to happen! When it was requested to put an announcement on the settlement website/portal the NFL refused, even when offered to be able to approve the wording of the announcement.  If you haven't already signed up, you can do so now.  Find out what the NFL does not want you to know.

All retired players, families of retired players, and attorneys representing retired players are invited and encouraged to attend.



Click the image to register.
Clicking on the image above will automatically generate an email to to the Player Advocacy Committee, who will respond with the link and password for the forum.
LEGISLATION ALERT:
I recently learned that Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, [D-CA-11] introduced a bill in the House to amend ERISA.  The bill is favorable to plan participants and beneficiaries and would fix some of the problems in the disability system except for one flaw.  


“(E) no covered provision related to a plan other than a multiemployer plan shall be valid or enforceable that purports to confer discretionary authority to any person with respect to benefit determinations or interpretation of plan language, or to provide a standard of review of such determinations or interpretation by a reviewing court in an action brought under this section that would require anything other than de novo review of such determinations or interpretation.

The NFL disability plan is a multi-employer, Taft Hartley plan which means that former players and other unionized employees would not see the benefits of the bill, which should not occur.  I'd like to encourage players and their family members to write Rep. Desaulnier to voice your support of the bill if it did not exclude multi-employer plans and ask for it to be amended so that unionized employees are not unfairly disadvantaged.  Also, write or call your own congressperson to express your support of the bill with that one change.  The reason that multi-employer plans are often disadvantaged is that lobbyists (including Groom Law Group on behalf of the NFL Plan) work fiercely to block anything that is friendly toward plan beneficiaries and recipients, and Congress rarely if ever gets the other side. It's time to turn the tables.

DISABILITY ALERTS
As you probably know, the NFL and NFLPA plan to start taking Social Security offsets in January 2024.  Even more dangerous than that disingenuous slap in the face, they will also stop approvals based on Social Security disability determinations, despite their promises to Congress. Then players who qualified by receiving SSD will be re-evaluated by their doctors, and I think we all know how that works most of the time.  This will be disastrous for hundreds of players and their families--UNLESS WE CAN STOP THEM.  Their (publicly) unspoken plan is to cull the number of disability recipients to something close to pre-2007 standards when Congress intervened

This is the area to which I'm devoting most of my time right now because of the potentially devastating consequences if it comes to pass.  I'm currently working on three separate paths to impede and hopefully stop their heartless plans.   I plan to host a Disability focused Zoom at a date TBA--probably mid-November.


As for me, the work still continues behind the scenes through Advocacy for Fairness in Sports.  Those of you who receive Inactive A Disability Benefits are probably aware that beginning in 2024 the NFL and NFLPA bargained in the new CBA to deduct offsets from your disability checks in the amount of your Social Security Disability  check.  And that isn't the worst part of their plan. They will also be eliminating approval through the Social Security Administration disability approval and will start retesting those who qualified through SSA with their own doctors.

RECLASSIFICATION
Many players have tried unsuccessfully to reclassify their disability classification to Active Football because of "changed circumstances."  Changed circumstances is a term Groom and the Plan refuses to define or interpret for a player or his attorney if asked.  That's because they tweak it to mean what is needed to prevent a player from qualifying.

A few months ago a living player prevailed for the first time EVER!   Mike Webster is the only other player to have been reclassified but that was after his death when his family filed suit.  This was also the first case to get full discovery and it was damning.  I'm including a link to the opinion in favor of former player Michael Cloud.  You will be shocked when you read it.  The Plan has filed an appeal and I hope to file an amicus brief in support of the player and demonstrate that this behavior is systemic to the Fifth Circuit.


OPINION IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF MICHAEL CLOUD

MISC
Those who attended my Zoom are aware that a documentary on the NFL Concussion Settlement is in the works.  Filming is now complete and the producer is working to complete the editing.  I've worked very closely with him in providing information and contacts and I expect that it will be very powerful.

DeMaurice Smith is supposedly serving his last term as NFLPA Executive Director.  It's good that he will (hopefully) be leaving but we don't want to wind up with someone just as bad or worse in his place.  I'll be elaborating on this in an upcoming newsletter.

There is a great deal of work that needs to be done--work that I am striving to push forward.  To do this, I need your help!  Since I've been working behind the scenes, donations have been scarce.  Out of sight, out of mind, I guess, but I feel it is necessary to proceed this way so as not to alert the NFL to the things I'm working on.

As I stated in the last newsletter, there is absolutely nothing I hate worse than asking for money, except quitting before we accomplish what needs to be done.  Since I am a disabled person on a fixed income of only Social Security Disability, I’m unable to subsidize the expenses for Advocacy for Fairness in Sports alone.  I hope if you have a little cash you can spare that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to ensure that I will be able to continue fighting for you.
As always, I seek to make myself available to former players and their families for guidance through a variety of challenges, So please feel encouraged to shoot me an email if there is something on your mind that I might be able to help with. 

You can reach me at defendersheilla@gmail.com or simply reply to this newsletter.  To reach the Player Advocacy Committee and register for the Zoom Forum click on the image in the body of this letter and that will go straight to the Committee.

 
Best wishes,

Sheilla






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Advocacy for Fairness in Sports · 943 E Main Blvd · Church Hill, TN 37642 · USA

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