Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 13
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Plugged In: Bob Grant, Retired NFL Players Congress

Bob Grant was one of the first African-Americans to play football for Wake Forest University. He went on to play in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1971. His formation this year of the Retired NFL Players Congress marks a new pursuit for Grant, who says the organization is about moving away from conflicts. SportsBusiness Journal asked Grant about the new group’s purpose and how it is distinct from other retiree groups.

We didn’t have a group that was legally the voice of the retired players, with all of us who are members. … It is owned by each and every retired player and each surviving widow.

What the group does: It supports any good works anyone is doing to help players, retired players. … Our intent, and one of the big reasons we organized — I believe we as retired players can do for ourselves. We are trying to get the retired players out of the lawsuit business, relative to the NFL and everyone else, and trying to get ourselves out of the begging business. … Quite frankly, owners already do a lot more than they have to, and the NFLPA, the union, does a great deal of work also.
About its relationship with the NFL: We are not funded by the NFL. We are in discussions with NFL Properties about the Congress being allowed to license and manufacture some actual team gear. … [Also], our men who are over 90 years of age, we have about 65 of them: The Congress is working on its own to establish a fund … for those who never received an NFL pension check. We have run it past the owners and it was well-received. The Congress is going to raise a certain amount of money, and then we are going to ask each owner to put in $200,000 apiece.
Sources of funding: We have had conversations with a few major corporations … that have benefited from the game of professional football. … The [membership] dues are minimal and voluntary. We set a figure that we started with when we formed the NFLPA [in the 1950s], and that is $50 per year.
About its relationship with the NFLPA, which for years has negotiated on behalf of retirees but does not legally represent them: We don’t have any harsh feelings against them … but if someone doesn’t represent you, whether you are colonial America or someone else, you have no choice but to represent yourself.

— Daniel Kaplan