HOFers Want Insurance, Salaries From NFL; Threaten Canton Boycott
A number of Pro Football HOFers sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Exec Dir DeMaurice Smith and Pro Football HOF President David Baker saying that they "would not attend" the annual HOF induction ceremony until they "receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of league revenue," according to Arash Markazi of ESPN.com. The letter was sent by Eric Dickerson, the Chair of the newly created HOF Board, and "signed by board members" that included Marcus Allen, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders and Lawrence Taylor. The letter outlines that the total cost for every HOFer to have "health insurance" is less than $4M, which is "less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league generates in revenue." The letter states, "Until our demands are met, the Hall of Famers will not attend the annual induction ceremony in Canton. It's well-known that the NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2020, and while we are proud of our role in building this league, we don't believe 100 years of player exploitation is something to celebrate" (ESPN.com, 9/18). SI.com's Scooby Axson notes the HOFers in the letter also cite Goodell's reported $40M annual salary, the league's $14B in revenue and the "ongoing construction" of the Johnson Controls HOF Village in Canton, which is projected to cost $1B. The letter pointed to other sports, such as MLB, whose "insurance and pension structure is vastly different from the NFL's." The HOFers said that the league's "Football is Family" marketing slogan "needs to ring true" (SI.com, 9/18). Dickerson tweeted several times, "#ThisTimeItsDifferent #LetsMakeHistory" (TWITTER.com, 9/17).
SHOULDN'T HAVE TO TAKE THIS STEP: FS1’s Shannon Sharpe, a member of the HOF who did not sign the letter sent to Goodell but supports the Dickerson-led group, said, “They shouldn’t have to be fighting for this. This should have been something that was negotiated a long time ago." Sharpe: "You’ve got to start somewhere, and the only thing that the Hall of Famers have is their presence. ... You look up there on the stage and you see all those gold jackets, you see all the Hall of Famers. If you see a whole bunch of empty chairs, that’s probably the only thing that is going to get the Hall of Fame’s and the NFL’s attention.” FS1’s Rob Parker said, “I understand why some other players would push back and say, ‘What about us?’ But how do you get the league’s attention to move and do something? You have to have the biggest and brightest stand up, be willing to sacrifice and say, ‘We’re not going to go to Canton.’ You see the commissioner makes a lot of money. He has lifetime health care and then you have to look at the building. They are going to break ground on a billion-dollar structure for the Hall of Fame. (The Hall of Famers) see this money. They see the league generates $14 billion” (“Undisputed,” FS1, 9/18).
DON'T FORGET ABOUT US: ESPN's Mike Golic, who played nearly a decade in the NFL, noted there are more than 300 HOFers who are the "greatest to play this game, but there are more of us than you." He said, "Thousands upon thousands and thousands of players that weren't as good as you, I will readily agree with that. But my nine years and 12 surgeries mean something. We're not in the Hall of Fame and won't be, and there's a lot of guys like us” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 9/18).