February 20, 2019
Two leading advocates for retired NFL players have teamed up in pushing for increased pension benefits for pre-1993 retirees.
The Pro Football Retired Players Association, a nonprofit chaired by Hall of Famer Jim Brown, donated $100,000 to Fairness for Athletes in Retirement, a nonprofit advocating for pension parity in the upcoming negotiations over the league’s next collective bargaining agreement.
The donation follows a pledge of NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to prioritize retiree benefits in the next labor accord in 2021.
Brown called pension disparity “the most pressing issue facing retirees,” and FAIR said it will use the money to continue raising awareness about the plight of some 4,000 pre-1993 retirees.
“Despite paving the way for the NFL to become what it is today, players of Jim Brown’s era have been left behind with the lowest pension package among all other major U.S. sports leagues,” FAIR president Lisa Marie Riggins said. “These players have never had league health insurance and retirement income is often consumed by medical expenses. With everything they have contributed to the league and the game, they deserve the security of a pension they can survive on.”
Addressing the disparity “would be a paradigm shift of historic proportions for a generation of beloved players,” Riggins said.
The league and its union instituted “legacy benefits” in its last accord in 2011 that supplemented pre-93 retirees’ pensions by between $108 and $124 monthly per credited season.
Their pensions continue to lag behind those of other sports, however. A 10-year NFL veteran who retired before 1993 receives between $24,000 and $43,560 a year before tax at age 55, according to FAIR.
In contrast, FAIR said a Major League Baseball player who retired after 1980 following a 10-year career receives about $200,000 yearly at age 62 and a 10-year NBA veteran who retired after 1965 receives about $215,000 a year at age 62.