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Time for Upshaw to retire or Goodell to try and do something

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by PATRIOT64, Jun 5, 2007.

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  1. PATRIOT64

    PATRIOT64 Rookie

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    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2893714&campaign=rss&source=ESPNHeadlines

    I think Gene Upshaw's time as executive director on the NFLPA should end soon

    Now hes telling the media he wants to break a guys neck

    I think Upshaw has been bad for awhile runnig the show..now his mouth is getting in the way

    There is a clause that says he cannot be disciplined which is BS to me - He needs to step down and let another take over,hes old and not making much sense anymore.
  2. zippo59

    zippo59 Rookie

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    Upshaw is a joke.

    Him and the entire NFLPA misses the point on practically everything.
  3. makoute

    makoute Rookie

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    Why would Goodell want to get rid of him? Isn't Upshaw good for the owners? That's what I keepreading anyways.
  4. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    Upshaw has kept labor peace and avoided strikes. That's the best thing for the fans the players and the game. His critics have other agendas which have no relation to my enjoyment of watching football. The criticisms leveled at the Union have been presented in a very one-sided manner by reporters with their own agendas, similar to the way "Man-Hands" MacMullen presented Ted Johnson's attack on BB. I am very reluctant to buy what they are selling at face value. All I know is that while Upshaw has been Union head, there have been no strikes for 20 years, no SBs cancelled, no acrimony, the league has displaced baseball as the American Pastime, the players salaries have exploded, and yet every team remains competitive due to not being saddled with guaranteed contracts like in baseball and basketball. IMO Upshaw's wisdom has far exceeded that of his critics. Obviously, some disgruntled retired players want their share of the pie, since they played prior to the age of $20 million dollar signing bonuses. This jockeying for advantage in the press over money is not why I watch or care about the NFL. Let the "crusading" press, the bloodthirsty lawyers and creative medical experts divide the spoils. When it comes to the football product on the field, Upshaw rules.
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2007
  5. g-fresh

    g-fresh Rookie

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    There is a reason that the most coverage of Upshaw and the NFLPA under him has portrayed him in a negative light. The fact that there have been no strikes does not mean that he is doing his job in an ethical manner, and this episode is just another reason to think that he does not have the best interests of everyone he represents in mind. There are plenty of very respected current and former players that do not approve of Upshaw and the way he has conducted business.

    Just to make things clear, a retired player said Upshaw wasn't doing enough to help former players to which he responded by saying he would break the guys neck. If you were an NFL player would you want someone who acted like that representing you?

    Your claim that former players want to get some of the multi billion dollar profits the league is making is certainly true. You have to keep in mind that the criticisms that many are making are in regard to the fact that there are aging former players who layed the ground work for the NFL that have no health insurance and are struggling just to get by. I don't think its too much to ask that the NFL shows these guys the respect they deserve and make sure they have medical coverage and enough money to eat and house themselves; and I certainly don't think its unreasonable to expect the head of a powerful union like the NFLPA to discuss issues with his detractors in a civil manner instead of making violent threats.
  6. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Every organization has components that are polarized, in this case Joe D. and his crew have run with this and made bigger than it probably should be. I was a big union guy and a leader, lots of stuff is said and sometimes unpopular decisions are made.. nevertheless at a time when players are getting paid more than ever, there is little dissent amongst the overall rank and file, the league is putting a spectacular product on the field he seems to have done a good job. If not the rank and file will vote him out.

    If he was threatened as he says he was, why didn't this become a police matter rather than a negative PR matter??
  7. Patsfanin Philly

    Patsfanin Philly Rookie

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    #95 Jersey

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  8. PonyExpress

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    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  9. g-fresh

    g-fresh Rookie

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    In your first post you said you liked Upshaw because of the results you saw, I do not think it is a stretch to apply the same logic to a different situation. The increase in salaries and popularity of the NFL are non factors here, they do not affect whether Upshaw has been doing his job in an ethical manner.

    You write off his threat as something "obviously not intended to be taken literally", and while I do not believe that Upshaw meant that he would go to the guys house and kill him it would not be the first time someone who had a powerful role in a union made such threats and had them carried out. No matter what his intentions it is inappropriate and unprofessional for him to be saying things like this, especially when the commissioner is trying to make it clear that thuggish behavior will not be tolerated.

    It seems like far less of a stretch to believe that the repeated stories of Upshaw performing his job in an improper manner are valid rather than that there is some kind of repeated twisting of facts being done by numerous reporters all seeking to target Gene Upshaw as their means to personal advancement. This would of course require their editors to go along with this and the rest of the sports reporting world to not call them out. This also discounts the current and former players who have spoken out against Upshaw. Which seems more reasonable, that Upshaw is a bad guy or this elaborate conspiracy?

    Please point some examples of "ambitious journalists" doing what you are saying. You are essentially claiming that any negative story about Upshaw is the product of reporters twisting facts, but there is absolutely no reason for them to do so. Reporters win Pulitzers for good reporting, not unfounded sensationalism.

    As for supporting former players, it is completely possible for them to provide benefits to former employees without implying any kind of liability. By your logic no employer could offer health coverage because it would someone be admitting liability. The NFL provides coverage to all its current players, how should this be any different than former players?

    Not providing benefits does nothing to protect them from the inevitable overly litigious former players. One must remain open to the concept that years of running into 300 hundred pound men at full speed may lead to detrimental effects to some players long term health, and the best way to protect the NFL from being sued into oblivion is to be proactive and provide benefits to its former players. Keep in mind the NFL is a multi billion dollar a year business, they can easily afford it to do this.

    The NFL has instituted plenty of rules which could be interpreted as toning down its violent nature" before, and will continue to do so where it sees it necessary to protect the health of their players. Despite your assertions to the contrary, the game has not suffered from the introduction of forcing players to wear helmets or to not block below the waist on returns or to stop the play when the QB is in the grasp of a tackler. This is all a moot point as the torrents of game changing lawsuits you suggest will never happen, and taking care of some aging former players will not change that.
  10. solman

    solman Rookie

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    If Upshaw was planing on staying indefinitely, there would already have been an uprising. But he's scheduled to retire before the next CBA.

    While I think he should probably be sent home early (thanks to his latest outburst), there is something unkind about firing somebody who is about to retire.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  11. Patsfanin Philly

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    The expression regarding Mussolini is a reference to look at the whole picture not just one aspect of it (try googling it for the reference or wikipedia if you've never heard it before) My point which seems to have been missed was just because the game is growing in popularity and salaries doesn't mean that they can or should ignore the men who were repsonsible for the growth today. It is said the true reflection of a society is how they treat their elederly and their children. The same could be said for organizations.
    As for the comment " not intended to be taken literally" I suggest that you study the history of unions in the USA and ask the Jablonski family or Jimmy Hoffa whether there can be fatal consequences. When the head of a powerful union threatens to break someone's neck who dares to disagree, he may not mean it literally but it sure seems that it was to have a deterrent effect.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2007
  12. 5 Rings for Brady!!

    5 Rings for Brady!! Rookie

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    While things have worked out okay from a fan's POV, it doesn't make Upshaw anything other than what he is. Did you miss the way he savagely laid into the Pats front office last year? Meanwhile he hasn't done much beyond token gestures for former players or underpaid players. It is still a select few in this league who make their money before being carried off in a cart.
  13. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    Since my last post I have educated myself more thoroughly on this topic. I believe my original opinion was misguided, and to those who called me on the carpet, your righteous indignation is justified. Upshaw should be doing far more for these players, and my defense of his conduct was indefensible. I apologize to anyone I offended by my apparent lack of compassion.
  14. Gopats!!!

    Gopats!!! Rookie

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    Upshaw has done an awesome job. The players are hugely rich and the future only looks brighter. Look at the last CBA -- the players made out like bandits!! While he was very stupid to say he'd break someone's neck (He should be above that) he has done a tremendous job. It seems some people (especially in the media) feel that if the relationship is not nasty and adversarial then the union is not doing it's job. The idea that there can be compromise without a strike doesn't seem to occur to people. I think at this point most of the players and owners realize that the NFL is by far the best organization out there and there is enough for everybody. All unions do not have to be unreasonable or demand a million things. A good union may not make good front page news, but it does good by the members -- which is why Upshaw is still the head of the Union.

    Sooner or later someone will be too greedy -- the players will want an even larger % of the money, owners may want some back, who knows? One thing I think the owners realize is that the NFL cannot become MLB or NBA. There must be some common sense involved.

    But much like the Patriots, enjoy the NFL why you can -- it won't be this good forever.
  15. basement zombie

    basement zombie Rookie

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    I am interested in this dialogue.

    Would you mind posting (or PM'ing me, if you prefer) some sites/information you found in your research? Particularly, I'm most interested in the idea that Upshaw can/could/should be doing far more for the players (medical benefits, etc.), without ruining the NFL as we now know it.
  16. TruthSeeker

    TruthSeeker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    The current NFL Union has treated their older, former union members shamefully and continues to do so. While they have done a great job for their current members, they have refused to grant even what would be a pittance of money to former players who well deserve it given the current state of the NFL.

    To have the average player today making millions (100+ million salary cap spread over 53+ players) while refusing to make any changes to almost non-existent pensions and battling obvious injury suits tooth and nail to avoid paying reasonable medical expenses is sickening. But that's what they do. Gene Upshaw's latest outburst is symptomatic of how he has been treating former players.

    My reportcard:
    Negotiating for current players: A
    Caring for former players: F-
  17. PatsFanSince74

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    I don't fault Upshaw, who I think is sincerely doing the job he believes he is supposed to be doing. While I suspect that there are a number of people at the top and bottom of the payroll scale who are unhappy, Upshaw is working with a group of current players who are generally happy, and his work on their behalf reflects that reality.

    There are, however, grievances that former players have that center on pensions as well as on improved benefits for those whose mental and physical health problems can now be attributed to their NFL play.

    The pension grievance might just be a result of "bad luck" for players whose careers did not overlap the lucrative TV contracts that have driven up today's salaries. I'm not trying to be harsh in saying this, but escalating salaries in all Sports are a fact of life.

    However, it does seem that today's NFL should be doing more to address the grievances related to football-related injuries.

    I think the first question for the NFL to address is whether the NFLPA is responsible for representing former as well as current players. If the answer to that question is "Yes," then you could argue that Upshaw et al should be doing more on their behalf. If the answer is "No," (as Upshaw seems to believe) then Players, Owners and NFL Management should agree on who is responsible for advocating for these legitimate concerns.

    It's time to stop looking for someone to blame and start figuring out how to address this important concern.
  18. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    There is nothing that prohibits the NFLPA from substantially increasing the pensions dedicated to players who played pre 1981 prior to the explosion in salary, from $3,000 per season of service per annum after age 55 to even double or triple that amount. The current total pension outlay for retired players I believe is only $60 million per year (not counting other benefits such as disability , severance, health benefits, annuities, the generous "88" plan for mental disability). The correction would compel current players to reduce salaries, or demand more from the NFL in collective bargaining to compensate, which could conceivably cause labor unrest. The NFL and the NFLPA should split the cost in acknowledgment that these players deserve dignity instead of humiliation in old age due to their original contributions to the present day windfall. The cost is not prohibitive considering the current wealth of the league. The current plan is not terrible, except for players who demanded an early lump sum instead of waiting till retirement age to benefit, but can be responsibly improved without risking the integrity of the game. Even those pound-foolish players should not be penalized so harshly for the folly of their youth. There is no reason that a charitable compromise cannot be reached. The reality is that throughout this country promised pension plans have been liquidated by corporations gone bankrupt and many workers have been left with nothing. It is the unfortunate reality of present business climate/conditions. The NFLPA, despite criticism, maintains an active and viable pension plan but Upshaw was aware of the pitiful struggles of some of the league's former greats and could have done more. My recommendation is that the NFL establish a "33rd team" dedicated solely to annual pensions, with a salary cap 2x the current outlay, that rises commensurate with existing team's caps for the duration of each collective bargaining agreement. The rough cost would be an additional 600 million over ten years to the league and active players. The NFLPA currently gets close to 57% of all revenue, so the cost would be roughly $57 million per year for the NFLPA, and $43 million per year for the league. IOW it would reduce the salary cap by roughly $1.1 million per season, and the profit per team by $825,000 per season. That does not seem outrageous.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  19. PonyExpress

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    Here is a more balanced view of these issues than has been presented elsewhere:

    "What really eats at Upshaw is that many of the ex-players who criticize him did little to support the players union in its early battles with NFL owners for fair wages and benefits.

    When Upshaw took over the NFLPA in June 1983, it was coming off a failed 57-day strike the previous season and was more than $4 million in debt. Now, it has more than $220 million in cash and assets. The average player salary has risen from $120,000 to $1.6 million under his watch. According to the NFLPA, the players' Retirement Plan has assets of about $1 billion.

    "The guys that are criticizing didn't help build this organization," Upshaw said. "They didn't help fight for these benefits that the players have, and didn't help fight for the improvements that are there. If you look back at the struggle and the fight, you don't see those guys.

    "When I think back to the '70s when [the NFLPA] was starting, what we did and what we fought for, we couldn't get the [player] support. We couldn't get the support to fight for pensions. When we went to court in '74, I saw guys cross the picket line when I was standing on it."

    Upshaw has negotiated pension increases for retired players in each of the last four collective bargaining agreements. The benefit credit per season for players who played in the league before 1970 has nearly quadrupled in the last 13 years.

    "Look around the country," Upshaw said. "Talk to your [Newspaper] Guild. There aren't too many unions that improve the [pension] benefits for guys already retired. They're not going to do it. But we've been doing it every time we sit down at the bargaining table."

    But with the NFL rolling in dough - its projected revenue number for 2007 is $7.1 billion - many retired players want to know why they can't have more. Monthly benefit credits for each season played range from $250 through 1981 to $470 per season for current players.

    "Some guys want to know why they can't get the same pension as the active players," Upshaw said. "They want to know why we can't just do that. Well, for starters, because it would cost us $1 billion.

    "They say, 'Well, you've got all this money in the pension plan.' Yeah. But when a guy knocks on the door 10 years from now [for his pension], I want to make sure he's got it. I don't want to be like United Air Lines or some of these other big corporations where the pension plan is gone. We're not going to do that.

    "I look at the [player] revenue. I look at where we are. What I have to do is balance that between making sure the active players get their fair share and also taking a piece of that [revenue] and putting it away for retired players."

    Upshaw said many retirees criticizing the plan started drawing their pensions too early and now are staring at much smaller monthly checks than they would have received had they waited until age 55.

    DeLamielleure, who played in the NFL from 1973 through 1985, would collect $3,200 a month if he didn't touch it until 55. But he started drawing on it 10 years ago, when he was 45, and receives less than a third of that amount.

    To prevent players from gutting their pension plan, Upshaw and the union insisted on changes to the retirement plan in the 1993 CBA that prevent players from touching their pensions until they turned 55.

    "We did it to protect the players," he said. "You used to be able to draw 25 percent [of your pension] up front and take the Social Security option. We took all of that away. Guys today will never, ever have those issues.

    "If you're a 10-year player today, and you do the maximum on your 401(k) and leave your pension in there until age 65, you can leave the game with [a pension of] $800,000 a year. If you play 5 years, it's half of that. We've protected them, so that they'll have that in place."

    Major League Baseball, whose pension plan is considered the gold standard in professional sports, doesn't allow retired players to take their pension until age 62.

    "If our pension plan were like baseball's, where you couldn't start drawing it until 62, it'd be a different story; it'd not be the same story," Upshaw said. "If you look at a guy like Ditka [who played from 1961 through 1972] who left his pension [untouched], Mike's pension is about $7,600 to $7,800 a month."

    While Upshaw defends the NFL's pension plan with religious fervor, he acknowledges that there are problems with the other main component to the NFL Retirement Plan - disability.

    According to league figures, only 284 former players received disability payments last year, totaling almost $20 million. That's a small number for a sport that wreaks as much havoc on the body as football.

    The disability application process can take up to 2 years, with players shuttled to several doctors before a decision is rendered.

    "There's a lot of red tape, a lot of delays," Upshaw said. "That's one of the things [NFL commissioner] Roger [Goodell] and I will be working very closely on.

    "What we want to do is look at the Social Security standards [for disability]. If Social Security says a player can't work, we should automatically approve him right away. We shouldn't have to have him go through all this other crap."

    Disability judgments are made by the plan's six trustees - three management representatives (Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and Ravens president Dick Cass) and three player representatives (former players Tom Condon, Jeff Van Note and Dave Duerson). But the board essentially must rely on the binding opinion of a physician agreed to by both sides.

    Upshaw said the league clearly is inclined to reject most disability applicants.

    "We [the three player trustees] believe it's our job to get a guy his benefits," Upshaw said. "But [the owners] don't feel the same way in a lot of cases. And I'm not talking about the three trustees. Where it really comes from is the advisers. The advisers don't want to set a precedent where we open the floodgates. They look for every reason [to reject players].

    "It's always been a fight, always been a struggle, to add people to disability. It's very easy to see why the players get frustrated about this."

    The league disputed Upshaw's contention that it is the reason many players are turned down for disability benefits. Spokesman Greg Aiello pointed out that all disability rulings must be unanimous or else they go to an independent arbitrator. He said only one disability case has been sent to an arbitrator in the last 14 years.

    "We find Gene's statement a little puzzling," Aiello said.

    The "88 Plan," which provides $88,000 a year for nursing or day care for ex-players with dementia or Alzheimer's disease or $50,000 a year for home care, appears to be going much more smoothly.

    Since the plan - approved as part of the bargaining agreement last year - went into effect in February, 54 players have applied for assistance and 35 have been approved. The union is trying to identify as many candidates as possible and get applications to them or their family.

    "I looked at all the names [of applicants] and put a red check mark by all of the guys that I played with or who coached me," Upshaw said. "It's a disturbing number.

    "Are their conditions caused by concussions they suffered when they were playing? I'll let the medical guys make that determination. A lot of the guys are up in age. Maybe the head blows bring it on faster. But it also could be a matter of age. I don't know." *http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/20070601_Upshaw_rejects_criticism.html
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2007
  20. PatsWickedPissah

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    Disable Jersey

    Nice injection of facts, PONY.
    Who here works in a job where years later the industry raises your retirement benes? (assuming you have any; those of us in high tech get nada)
    And his point about drawing benes early is a good one. If you tap Soc Security or your 401K early on, you'll have less money. Football players are very very very fortunate money wise compared to 99% of us. That being said I would strongly support extra health benes for old retirees as football DOES destroy the body. Fix that problem and a major improvement would be made.
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