Congressmen to DeMaurice Smith: “We strongly encourage you to meet with George Martin of NFL Alumni Association”
While NFL owners continue to fund retired player benefits in the work stoppage, three Members of Congress recently urged NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith to meet – for the first time – with NFL Alumni Association president George Martin.
“We write to strongly encourage you to meet with Mr. George Martin, the President and Executive Director of the NFL Alumni Association,” Congressmen Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler (D-North Carolina) wrote in a March 4 letter to Smith “We recently had a very open and candid discussion with Mr. Martin and think that you and he would benefit from a similar, face-to-face meeting.”
“The retirement benefits for former players are an important issue,” the Congressmen concluded. “Therefore, we urge you to set time aside to meet soon with Mr. Martin and NFL Alumni…We look forward to a prompt response to our request.”
Yesterday, in an interview on Sirius XM Radio, NFLAA president Martin reiterated the Congressmen’s request.
“We have no formal relationship with the new executive director of the NFLPA,” said Martin, who played 14 seasons for the New York Giants (1975-88). “And that is disconcerting to me as the head of the NFL Alumni Association and it’s disappointing to the vast number of members we have in our ranks. We feel at the very least we should have an open and honest dialogue with the organization that we helped build as active ballplayers. Myself being a former president of the NFLPA, it is disappointing to me that I don’t have open access to DeMaurice Smith to begin to talk about those things that impacts us as former ballplayers. It is more than a year now and we don’t have that opportunity and it is extremely disconcerting.”
In the interview, Martin noted that NFL clubs continue to fund retired player benefits in the work stoppage.
“The NFL Alumni are very secure in the promise from the league and Roger Goodell that there would be no disruptions in the benefits we currently enjoy as retired ballplayers,” Martin said. “That there would not be any severance of those benefits, and he has taken the lone step to put that commitment in writing. We think that is a huge advantage and a very positive step in the right direction in supporting the needs of retired ballplayers.”