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May 27th
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Attention Drew Brees, Sam Huff has a few questions for you

Back in Huff's day, pro football was seen as a stepping-stone to another career. No one really thought football was a lifelong profession and no one gave a second thought to the post career problems that players developed from playing in "The Violent World of Sam Huff."

No one has a number because a lot of former players just don't out and talk about their problems. There does seem to be a post-career record of multiple operations for knee, hip and shoulder replacements, depression, spousal abuse, finance problems, homelessness, drug addiction, dementia, thoughts of suicide and suicide. Vested veterans get some post-career health benefits but only for five years. Players from Huff's era get meager pensions and if they didn't get a second job after their career (or are unable to work because of injuries), they ended up on the public dole before the age of 65 on social security insurance and Medicare. The cost to the taxpayers may be in the billions caring for discarded players. “De Smith said all the right things (about taking care of the old players) but he hasn't followed through. The worst thing is (the former players) didn't make much money but they made the game. Gene Upshaw changed all of it. He was a turncoat. It is all about money.”
- Sam Huff

The players from the 1950s just wanted better playing conditions but the owners never took the players very seriously. Huff was out of the NFL when the players struck in 1968. The NFLPA has always had a difficult time in keeping the association's membership together. That is a far cry from what football is all about according to Huff.

“It is about teamwork, teammates working together if you go on strike. (Gene) Upshaw could have been a great leader but when he became the power (Executive Director in 1983) he took away everybody's vote. It became all about money. I know what unions are; my father was in the United Mine Workers. The NFLPA is just an organization. (Current NFLPA head DeMaurice) Smith says it is one locker room (for the present and past players). De Smith never played football; neither did (NFL Commissioner) Roger Goodell. It is a mess.

“De Smith said all the right things (about taking care of the old players) but he hasn't followed through. The worst thing is (the former players) didn't make much money but they made the game. Gene Upshaw changed all of it. He was a turncoat. It is all about money.”

In 1974, the NFLPA's slogan was Freedom Now, as the association pushed for free agency. In 1982, it was "Money Now" as the players pushed for free agency and more money. There seemed to be no long-term plan for the players for good pensions and long-term health care.

Huff wondered how two guys with no football experience (Goodell and Smith) without people around them with football experience could "make up the rules if you never played."

Comments (11)
11 Wednesday, 25 May 2011 08:57
Huff needs to go back under the rock he came from. All those helmet to helmet hits must have shut his small brain down. He obviously has no clue what he's talking about.
10 Thursday, 31 March 2011 02:02
Ana Sandor
Drew Brees has the right to say or sue whomever. Yet, the reality of the CBA is that the NFL's and NFLPA are both responsible for the retirement plan being 40% underfunded. This means that the plan is subject to being taken over by the federal government. The NFLPA receives a percentage of the revenues as part of the past CBA. Athletes pay around $15,000 a year (rumored) to be a part of the union on top of that. It is not all the NFL that is involved in the money issues - it is definitely the union. So many athletes do not have a sound understanding of what is going on with the CBA and the union. The athletes need to be concerned about the actions of the union and not negotiating in "good faith" under arbitration laws. Former athlete's benefits are paid for by the current athletes - similar to social security where the current working generation is paying for the generation before them.

The NFL is a large sports league; yet, they are not the only football league in the world. Brees and other athletes can go play in the arena football league or some of the new leagues. The problem - they will not make as much money in those leagues. Since there are other sports leagues that the athletes can play in to include Europe; is it truly a monopoly? Just because ATT is the largest does not mean that there is not competition for the services provided. Same principle.

The NFLPA used the fans to sign a petition to Godell through the website that the fans delivered recently to Godell. The website is owned by the NFLPA (Check whois and findout who the registrar is) and was opened in March 2010. I think that it is poor PR to have the fans do the unions work. Did the union pay those fans to travel to where godell was and the costs incurred. Very curious. De (Maurice) are you out there?

Ana S. Washington, DC
9 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 14:23
Don't know the other guys you mention, Evan, but Gene Atkins played for my Saints and he made a very healthy living. He should have been better prepared. Huff, himself, may have something to whine about and let's face it, it is whining. If they played for the love of the game, then what are they complaining about? No one is taking their love away. The NFL and NFLPA owes them nothing. They signed their contracts willingly. They should ask nicely and be happy with whatever they get. Antagonizing the leadership is the wrong approach.
8 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 13:25
Bush Doctor
This idiot has a hard-on for Drew Brees for no rational reason... And he throws the late Gene Upshaw under the bus for "making it all about the money." Sorry, but I don't think Mr. Upshaw invented the idea of greed... Check yourself before you go on the radio Sam Huff!!! Nobody cares what you think... Giants and Redskins suck!
7 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 13:17
Bush Doctor
what the hell is sam huff whining about...? Drew Brees made an accurate comment... Sam Huff needs to keep his mouth shut, or Greg Williams will put a target on his back...
6 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 13:00
James Wilson
I have never heard or read Sam Huff or the late Kyle Rote cry about the money they were paid back then. Back then it was all about the "Love of The Game."
I would suggest a little more reading about the history of the game and its players.
Rote took a second job in the off season to support his family.
The real reson for him starting the Players Association had little or nothing to do with money.
Remember the years. This was back when "colored people" had seperate bathrooms and seperate hotels to use; "Whites Only," the signs read.
When on-the-road, Rote thought this was an injustice for his "Black" team mates, he was the Captain of the Giants. He chose to stay in the hotels with them over the White Only ones.
Todays players should be thanking men like Huff and Rote for what they did. Many, and certainly not all, are making mad money. They play with a lot more padding protection today too.
I have no bad feelings towards Drew. I just don't think he knows all of the facts. The "Old-Timers," kept this stuff private. They were, I feel, just a little more humble.
I would suggest to some players, that rather than buying another automobile, they consider sending that money to The Kyle and Nina Rote Foundation. One thing this foundation supports is "Focus Adolescent Services," who for decades has saved American children and maybe even some who we see on the field on Sundays.
5 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 12:42
evan weiner
To RobF,
These older guys are asking for health benefits. Some of them are not older guys. Only a handful of players, the two Mannings, Favre, Tomlinson, Brady are truly set for life. Contracts are not guaranteed, the lesser guys get two or three years of better than average salaries, you need to get vested for pension and benefits which is four years, the average career is less than four years. The health benefits run out after fives years of being out of football. The association has screwed the membership. The players all have pre-existing conditions and a lot of them cannot get insurance and end up on SSI and Medicare. The stuff you see on pre-game shows with all the yuks and listen to on talk radio is not the real world. You should try and talk to Dave Pear, Brent Boyd, Gene Atkins, George Visger, Pat Matson and the others about the hell they paid after their career and being on their own with no help from the NFL, NFLPA or their agents. That is the real story and while some of it has come out, most has been buried. Families destroyed, financial difficulties, physical ailments in players in their 40s and 50s. That's the reality.
4 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 11:00
Paul B
Looks like Sam Huff was blindsided. I have read that Brees has done more for trying to bring players together than some guys in Huff's era. Looks like another retired guy being used for propoganda.
3 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 10:51
I agree that Brees is not the bad guy, and it's crazy for Huff to say that Brees "needs to keep his mouth shut." Brees is also right that a lot of players blow their money. There are many, many examples of pro athletes who squandered millions. Trading jabs in the media does absolutely nothing to address the problem. If Brees is just repeating what someone else said, then Huff and Morris should meet with him and explain why they think he is misguided. That would get all the players on the same page, as Huff says he wants, and would effectively make older players an important piece of the current negotiations. If Huff truly wants all players to be on the same team, he needs to actually talk to the current players and get everyone on the same page. Stop the stupid media game.

These older players took a beating just like current players, and those injuries need to be treated. The NFL has the money (and the pie is growing) so they should do something for these guys. If the older players were asking for big pensions, then I would agree that they are only looking for a handout. But, if they are asking for medical coverage to treat the injuries they received "building the game", then that sounds reasonable.

The fact that the NFL is pushing them toward Medicare and Social Security means that ALL OF US are paying for the NFL's shortcomings in that area. They need to take care of their own problems....especially since they have plenty of money to do so.
2 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 09:39
He should keep his mouth shut? Brees has every right to spout his opinion just as Huff does. The former players should quit badgering both the league and the union since they're essentially asking for a handout. Those players didn't make what today's players make but they surely made more than the average Joe. They're not entitled to any more than they're already getting.
1 Wednesday, 30 March 2011 07:38
Jamie P.
BREES is not the bad guy. It is totally true that most NFL players WASTED MONEY and made terrible financial decisions like marrying gold-diggers that affected their future, but it is totally someone elses fault. They new they didn't get paid that much back then so they should have planned accordingly!!!

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