NFLPA, NFL Alumni Association Disagree About Letter Detailing Legacy Fund

NFL Alumni president George Martin has responded to claims made by DeMaurice Smith in a SB Nation interview last week.

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NFL Alumni Association Wants More Action, Less Talk From NFL, NFLPA

The NFL Alumni Association has offered up several responses to claims made by both the NFL and NFLPA regarding the pensions for retired players. They claim both sides are using retired players as a pawn in their effort to get on the court of public opinion on their side.

Increased pensions is a topic both the league and union have used as a PR tool in gaining support for their respective agendas and have also used the topic to drive a wedge between retired players and their counterparts. Both sides have used the topic to drop propaganda laced messages throughout the retired player community that has done nothing but confused and enraged the masses. While the propaganda suggests otherwise, little or no action has been taken by the NFL and NFLPA to increase pensions for retired players.

The NFL Alumni Association is using some of DeMaurice Smith's words from a recent interview with SB Nation against him. In our interview, Smith told me the creation of a legacy fund could increase pensions by as much as $1,000 per month. The NFL Alumni Association claims that Smith has previously cited different numbers ranging from $500 to $2,000 per month.

You can read more about the Legacy Fund in this letter from the NFLPA to the NFL Alumni Association.

NFL Commissioner Goodell made a proposal back in March that called for the creation of a rookie salary cap and the first $100 million savings of that would go to retired players. The NFL Alumni Association claims the NFLPA's response was to tie that into an extension for the new CBA, which the NFL wasn't interested in doing.

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Full Letter To The NFL Alumni Association Requesting Support On Five Key Issues

We passed along some information regarding the letter the NFLPA sent to the NFL Alumni Association requesting its support for DeMaurice Smith's idea for a Legacy Fund letter as well as four other requests. The NFL Alumni Association's stance is that it never received this letter but has continually tried to contact Smith to no avail.

SB Nation has acquired the letter that was sent on Nov. 10, 2009 and re-sent on Jan. 29, 2010.

One of the biggest issues between these two sides, from what I can tell, has been a lack of communication.

Smith told me in an interview last week that "[This] is a letter I'm sure we wouldn't mind every fan in America seeing."

If the NFL Alumni Association hasn't seen the letter, they have now. Here it is -- in its entirety -- from the NFL Retired Players Steering Committee and Chapter Presidents:

Letter to George Martin From Andre Collins

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He Said, He Said: DeMaurice Smith And George Martin Disagree About Letter Detailing Legacy Fund

On Monday of this week we published an interview with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Smith has publicly stated his support for retired players and has taken an approach that, on the surface, is the opposite to that of former NFLPA Executive Director, the late Gene Upshaw, who infamously claimed that he worked for current players -- and not retired players.

In our conversation, Smith told me he had sent a letter to the NFL Alumni Association requesting support for his idea of a Legacy Fund as well as four other requests.

The NFL Alumni Association is a non-profit group composed primarily of retired players who advocate for key issues affecting retired players. The group is tied to the owners side of things but, as a spokesperson for the group told me Wednesday evening, "[NFL Alumni president] George Martin is for whatever helps retired players."

The letter, according to a union source, was sent Nov. 10, 2009, and a followup letter was sent on Jan. 29, 2010, requesting confirmation that the original letter had been received.

Both went unanswered, according to the NFLPA.

A spokesman for the NFL Alumni Association said Wednesday evening that the group never received the letter. "We keep hearing about this letter, but we've never seen it," the spokesman said.

The letter outlined five specific requests the NFLPA had for the NFL Alumni Association. One of the requests was for support of a Legacy Fund, which Smith detailed in our interview.

Smith tells us the letter requesting support for the Legacy Fund went unanswered. "George Martin hasn't responded to the letter in over a year," Smith told us. "No communication about the letter. Plenty of people want to meet and talk but the proof is in actions."

In a statement posted on the NFL Alumni website, president George Martin said it was "preposterous" that Smith said they had no communication. "I have constantly called, emailed, sent letters and text messages to Mr. Smith requesting a meeting," Martin wrote. "To this day, Mr. Smith ignores my requests."

Ultimately, this appears to be a case of he-said, he-said but SB Nation has acquired documents indicating that the letter was indeed sent. Whether it arrived in the appropriate party's hands is up for debate.

Meanwhile, there's more conflicting information coming from each side.

In the letter Smith says he sent there is this request (emphasis added): "Will the NFL Alumni Association support Congresswoman Linda Sanchez's call for the creation of a Legacy Fund, financed separately from the CBA?"

The NFL Alumni tells us that the owners offered a deal to the union to increase pensions for retired players but Smith countered with an offer that would tie any increase to the pension to an extension of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"The NFL Alumni is sick of new funds and the red tape that comes with it," Martin said.

It seems that one quick solution would be to provide the NFL Alumni Association with the letter about the Legacy Fund. We have a feeling that may happen soon.

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NFL Alumni President George Martin Responds To NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith

Last week I spent some time speaking with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith on a wide variety of issues ranging from labor talks with the NFL to his reflections after one year in office.

One of the topics discussed was retired players and specifically George Martin, president of the NFL Alumni Association. Martin has taken issue with Smith's words writing on the NFL Alumni Association website that Smith has "continued his practice of spreading rumor, falsehoods and innuendo concerning the issues facing retired NFL players."

It is also very apparent that Mr. Smith views the issues facing alumni as nothing but a political poker chip for him to shuffle across the table as he sees fit. The issues facing retired NFL players and their families are real and affect real people and are much more important than beltway politics and lawyer games.

In our story, we wrote that Smith sent a letter to Martin requesting support for his idea of a legacy fund for retired players. "I've said every team should make a contribution of at least a million dollars a year for a total of $32 million a year for what I would call the legacy fund," Smith said. "That legacy fund should go to all the players pensions who played prior to 1993 and that would increase all their pensions by, get this, $1,000 per month."

Smith told me that he hadn't had any communication with Martin specifically regarding that letter.

Martin's response to that claim:

On a personal note, I find it preposterous that Mr. Smith would mention he has had no communications with me without telling the whole story. Since October 2009, I have constantly called, emailed, sent letters and text messages to Mr. Smith requesting a meeting. To this day, Mr. Smith ignores my requests.

Meanwhile, Martin also claims that NFL owners recently gave the players an offer regarding pensions, which Smith ultimately did not accept.

Earlier this year, NFL owners responded with an offer to the union that would have immediately placed $100 million in the pension fund. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith’s words on retired player issues did not align with his actions when the union countered the owners’ proposal with an offer that tied the increase in pensions to an extension of the current CBA.

You can read Martin's entire statement here.  You can read the SB Nation article on Smith here.

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