FACT CHECK: Despite union claims, NFL clubs contributed more than $350 million for retired player pensions in last two years
Former Buffalo Bills defensive back (left) Jeff Nixon recently wrote a column to set the record straight on the funding of retired player benefits. Throughout the story, Nixon, a member of the national advocacy committee for the “Fourth and Goal” organization of NFL Alumni, corrects statements made by NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith last week on WFAN Radio in New York.
“Right now as we speak, how much money do the NFL teams provide to the former player pensions? The answer is zero,” Smith said in the interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa.
“Teams pay nothing to former player pensions right now, and it’s been that way since 19…it’s been that way since history,” Smith continued. “So I think it’s disgraceful that teams don’t pay anything to the former players who made this game great.”
“Now let’s do some fact checking on what DeMaurice Smith said,” Nixon writes.
“First of all, the NFLPA’s own website – under the section Former Players Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Pension Plan – it states that “The increased benefits, and a new 88 Plan for retired players with dementia, will be funded by about $250 million of owner contributions over the next six years.
“So as you can see, DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA acknowledged on their own website, that the owners are contributing money to the Pension Plan,” Nixon continues. “Hasn’t DeMaurice Smith ever wondered why the Pension Plan is named after two former NFL Commissioners?”
“It’s named after Bert Bell and Pete Rozelle because they were the owners’ representatives that were responsible for negotiating the NFL pensions that players receive now and in the future.”
“The 2006 CBA – and all previous CBAs,” Nixon notes, “have clearly stated that the owners are responsible for all contributions to the Pension Plan. You can read it in Article 3 – Contributions - of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan.”
“According to AON, the actuarial consultant for the NFL Pension Plan, the NFL owners contributed $187.8 million to the NFL Pension Plan in 2009 and $166.7 million in 2010,” Nixon adds. “In 2010, the Pension Plan paid out more than $63 million to retired players currently receiving pensions.”
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