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QBREES9 03-19-2010 11:02 PM

DeLamielleure Slams Brees’ Stance on Retired Players’ Benefits
N.F.L. Hall of Fame member Joe DeLamielleure has been an outspoken advocate for improving benefits and care for his fellow retired players, unleashing his take-no-prisoners style on everyone from the late union leader Gene Upshaw to his current target: Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who is taking an increasingly high-profile role in union matters.

Brees was quoted last year criticizing retired players who had criticized the union.

“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees told USA Today last year. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say, ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’ ”

On Thursday, DeLamielleure unloaded on Brees in a letter that DeLamielleure made public on the Web site.

DeLamielleure took issue with Brees’ proposal to give retired players two non-voting seats on the N.F.L.P.A. board of player representatives. He also criticized Brees for considering it a priority to improve the five years of health coverage for current players and their families, while saying nothing about improving coverage for retired players.

Here are a few of DeLamielleure’s most pointed statements in the letter:

“You want retired players to be on your team. You gotta be kidding me! On every team that I ever played on, we all had the same game plan. Well, your game plan is a lot different than the one most retired players want to see executed.”

“Could one of the reasons you want us to join the “Team” be because the NFL Owner’s have discontinued their contributions to your Annuity Plan, Second Career Savings Plan, Tuition Assistance Plan, Health Reimbursement Account? Well, if you want us to fight for your benefits, you better start fighting for ours!”

“If you really wanted the retired players to rally around you Drew, you should have mentioned something about increasing the Pension Plan, or reforming the Disability Plan, which are the top two issues that concern retired players.”

“So where were you when the owners recently proposed to increase retired player pension benefits by $100 Million? The money for that expense would have come from a wage cap on rookies.”

“It is simply astonishing to me that you expressed your concern about better health insurance for NFL wives, especially in light of the fact that there are thousands of retired players that never received a plug nickel for post-career health insurance and a Health Reimbursement Account like the one you will have when you retire.”

“Some players have been denied an NFL disability and as a result, their bank accounts have been drained dry due to hospital and doctor bills. Many retired players can’t find affordable health insurance because they’re self-employed. Many others have the added problem of insurance companies dropping them, capping their annual payments, or outright denying them coverage because of (football related) pre-existing conditions.”

“Unfortunately, I received some bad advice from the union and was encouraged to take my Pension at age 45. We were given bogus information that told us NFL players were dying at a much younger age than the general population, so I did what I thought was best for my family.”

“Many retired players had to take their pension money out of necessity. We didn’t make the millions that you and other players now make. I should note that the NFLPA finally realized their mistake and stopped allowing retired players to take early pensions and the Social Security Adjustment Option too.”

“Like a lot of retired players, I’m sick and tired of hearing multi-millionaire players talk about increasing their own benefits, while at the same time giving lip service to retired players.”

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