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December 28, 2019
Dear Retired Players and Families,
The past month (and year) have flown by!  I hope that all of you had a happy holiday celebration and that the upcoming New Year treats you well.  Since the month is almost gone, this newsletter will be a combo for December and January.  It's been quite an eventful year both for Advocacy for Fairness in Sports and for litigation that affects retired NFL players and those close to them.  The NFL Concussion Settlement has grown somewhat quiet after a period of scorched earth attacks on multiple player claims, and now appears to be going after players one by one instead of objections like the generally consistent, and mandatory AAP review filings or even the one in which they sought criminal prosecution.  I'm still continuing to monitor the situation as closely as possible and will report new developments as I'm able to unearth the information.

Currently, several very important (precedent-wise) disability lawsuits are underway.  Tyrone Keys' lawsuit is especially disturbing in that after he was awarded benefits and received them for years, the Plan decided that his disability was caused by a minor car accident rather than his NFL career and that he'd been paid in error, demanding repayment of over $800,000! Over 5,000 documents have been produced in his record, only one short paragraph of which would support the plan's assertion as to the causation of his injuries.  You can read more in our first featured story.

The NFL’s Blitzkrieg Against Disabled Retirees Advances

Tyrone Keys’ Disability Case Illustrates the Triumvirate’s Scorched Earth Assault

There’s a 100% injury rate in the NFL.  NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has been quoted in regard to consequences of possible termination of the Affordable Care Act, and workers’ compensation restrictions in Illinois that all players leave the NFL with pre-existing conditions.  One need only take a peek at the weekly injury reports to confirm the pandemic of injuries in the NFL.

While absolutely truthful in this regard, Smith speaks with a forked tongue in that while heralding the NFL/NFLPA collectively bargained benefit package as the best of its kind (though healthcare coverage is terminated at 5-years) he never addresses the elephant in the room, and that is the fact that the Bert Bell-Pete Rozelle Benefits Plan via the NFL and players’ union, spends millions every year to block retired players from collecting on those bargained-for benefits.

Numerous lawsuits on behalf of former NFL players seeking to collect on their disability benefits are currently underway in the civil court system.  

Of the many compelling cases currently in federal court, perhaps none reflect the brutish nature of The Plan more so than the situation involving  Tyrone Keys

Continue reading

Recently several retired NFL players were indicted by the Department of Justice for healthcare fraud.  Advocacy for Fairness in Sports has not yet reported on this case but we are investigating and the scoop that we're able to give at this point is "things are not always as they appear."  What we know so far that the government hasn't revealed is that several players are cognitively impaired, and it's likely that impairment led to some questionable decisions on the part of at least some involved.  There are other parts of the indictment that aren't adding up, but our investigation is ongoing and more will be reported as we are able to reliably confirm some non-public aspects of the case.

Mind of Maurice Clarett

Football Players are Dying
 A New National Epidemic—“Post-football death”


Last week, another former football player, George Atkinson III, took his own life. It was less than one year after his twin brother, Josh Atkinson, committed suicide.

Both brothers played football for Notre Dame and George had spent the last 5 years since leaving ND bouncing from one NFL practice squad to another, perhaps chasing ghosts of his father and namesake, George Atkinson II, an NFL pro-bowler.

These deaths hit close to home for me, as 4 former players at the Ohio State University have died of apparent suicide in the last 5 years, including Mike Kudla, my friend and teammate on the 2002 National Championship team.

At one point not long after I left OSU, I was ready to die.  Continue Reading...

Another disability story we've covered involves the proposed class-action filed by Chris Hudson.  Like many retired players, Hudson was never advised regarding what the Plan views as "changed circumstances" and found himself locked into Inactive A benefits rather than the football degenerative benefits he should have qualified for.  Unfortunately, the judges handling his case seem naive as to the Plan's tactics, at best, or indifferent at worst as Hudson fights to keep his lawsuit and claim alive.  Already the NFL and Plan have used preliminary rulings in Hudson's case to bully Andre Royal into withdrawing his lawsuit, which was very similar in nature and now they seek to bully Royal and his attorney even further in seeking sanctions asking the court for Royal to cover the NFL's expensive lawyers fees.  The court hasn't yet ruled on the fees in Royal's case or the amended complaint in Hudson's lawsuit, so these are both important cases to keep an eye on.  You can read more in our second featured article.

Hudson Case Demonstrates How NFL and NFLPA Steps on Retired Players

The continued failures of the NFL Players Association are most demonstrable in a collective bargaining agreement that heavily favors people who in poetic irony call themselves “owners.” While it’s difficult to perceive all the consequences of every “jot and tittle” of such a contract at the time of negotiation, the egregious flaws from a player perspective aren’t minor oversights that union leadership couldn’t have seen coming which have merely inconvenienced members.

On the contrary, they are astounding weaknesses that deny players the dignity of their humanity and an equitable share in the value they create in the industry. Hudson v. NFLPA, et al is a tragic lesson in this truth.

Continue reading

Here are some other stories published since our last newsletter that we think you'll find of interest.


Ex-NFLer with ALS is Sacked for $1.25 Million Loss in Funder Concussion Deal Dispute

While the issues surrounding dementia claim difficulties continue to be shrouded in mystery, settlement funder issues in the NFL Concussion Settlement have presented a more visible face,
and the face at the center of the drama is that of William White... It was in December 2016, the same month that the concussion settlement became final after the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, that White took a $500,000 advance from Thrivest, a sum that eventually cost him $1.25 million.  Continue reading...

NFL Deflects Blame to Teams for Painkiller Abuse in Painkiller Suit

The ability of the NFL to avoid liability for how current and former players were treated in regards to overuse of painkiller medications is rooted in its use of two

“shields.” The first is a holding that its individual franchises, not the NFL itself, are responsible for any and all medical care that players receive. The second is that any indirect activity on the topic of player welfare is governed by the league’s collective bargaining agreement and therefore any player grievances should be handled within the parameters laid out by that document and that players forfeited their ability to use the courts in that manner when they agreed to the terms of the CBA.

That’s exactly the points the NFL makes in its response to Richard Dent’s third amended complaint against the league.  Continue reading...

More NFL Headlines:

What's Ahead in the Oakland vs. Raiders Lawsuit? by Sheilla Dingus

Lane Johnson's Appeal Casts Shadows on NFLPA, District Court by Sheilla Dingus

What's Next in the Face-off Between Kaepernick and the NFL? by Habiba Youssouf

Other Features

Jennifer Bradley's Case Highlights the NCAA's Cherry-Picking by Derek Helling

What the Aspen’s Insitute’s Panel on NIL Legislation and a 1974 Chart-Topper by America Have in Common by Derek Helling

The Joker Has Nothing on the NCAA by Derek Helling

Breaking Down the NCAA's Latest Stall Tactic for Athlete Compensation by Kelsey Trainor

You may have noticed that we have some new writers on board.  Please welcome Maurice Clarett and Kelsey Trainor to the "Advocacy" family!  Also, be sure to check out the homepage of our website for stories that didn't make it into the newsletter.

While December was an exciting month in adding new writers to our efforts, it was also a challenging month financially, in that donations were way down and we're dipping into reserves to cover expenses.  (The 5,000 pages for the Tyrone Keys lawsuit that were filed this month were $96.00 alone, and we're tracking well over 50 lawsuits!)  Compounding issues with donations, we found ourselves under a spam attack from the latter part of November through mid-December in which someone was trying to use our website to test stolen credit card numbers.  Fortunately Stripe, the company that processes our non-PayPal donations was on the ball and able to block the fraudulent activity, but the flip side of the equation is that we were prevented from receiving legitimate donations when our forms had to be taken offline.  Please accept my apology if you tried to donate unsuccessfully during that time.

We eventually resolved the matter by creating a new donation form and deleting the old donation page, replacing both the form and page with new ones, so some of our links may not have been updated as it's challenging to try to fight technology and run an investigative newsroom at the same time!  (Almost) Everything should be working now, so if you have a little to spare, as always (and especially after last month's challenges) we deeply appreciate whatever you can contribute.  Your generosity makes our reporting possible!
Best wishes,


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