Pro Football Hall of Famers, seeking health insurance, could boycott future ceremonies

NFL Hall of Famers are threatening a boycott of future ceremonies. (Getty)
More than a dozen of the greatest players in NFL history are threatening to boycott future Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies unless the NFL provides Hall of Famers with health insurance and an annual salary.
In a letter sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame C. David Baker, multiple players, led by Eric Dickerson, president of the newly created Hall of Fame Board, laid out their case for continued support from the league.
“We, the undersigned Pro Football Hall of Famers, were integral to the creation of the modern NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue,” the letter begins. “But when the league enshrined us as the greatest ever to play America’s most popular sport, they gave us a gold jacket, a bust and a ring — and that was it.”

What are players seeking?

“People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us,” the letter notes. “But on balance, it’s not. As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.”
As a result, the players are seeking health insurance and an annual salary.
As if anticipating the howls of protest from ownership, the league, and fans who side with management, the players note that health insurance for every Hall of Famer would cost $4 million a year, “less than [the cost] of a 30-second Super Bowl ad,” or about three cents for every $100 in revenue. An annual salary would cost 40 cents for every $100 in revenue. They also point out that Goodell’s own salary is $40 million a year.
“A baseball player who has appeared on a Major League roster for one day is entitled to health insurance for the rest of his life. A player employed on a roster for 43 days gets a lifelong pension,” the letter notes. ” … The NFL is the only major American corporation that is set up this way.”

Who’s involved in the possible boycott?

Dickerson’s name leads the letter. Signers include Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Kurt Warner and Sarah White, widow of Reggie White.
The players indicated that unless their demands are met, they will boycott the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony. Given the fact that the NFL will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020 — and that the league values praising itself above almost anything else — this is a threat that will resonate. Consider the effects of Terrell Owens’ decision to skip this past year’s induction ceremonies. While the Pro Football Hall of Fame isn’t technically an NFL operation, the induction ceremony remains the most public venue that these players still have available to them.
The NFL Players’ Association also comes in for some criticism. “Our relationships with active players tell us that we’ve been historically underutilized as mentors — and that there has been a deliberate attempt to divide active and retired players,” the letter notes. As such, the retired players are seeking a voice in the next round of collective bargaining agreements; the current agreement is set to expire in 2021.
“An NFL marketing slogan states that ‘Football is Family,” the letter concludes. “We agree, which is why we’re demanding to be treated like family members who are integral to the league’s present and future. As the legends of the game’s past, we deserve nothing less.”
____ Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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