Monday December 29th, 2014

The Canadian Football League has reportedly “lost” more than 1,000 former players who qualified for the CFL Players' Association Pension Plan.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, plan administrators have 1,156 former players listed as “missing” who would be eligible to receive early payouts at age 50 or full benefits at age 60.

Those missing players add up to about $4.5 million in pension benefits that would be due to them.

“We are finding a couple of hundred a year, but we are losing the same number,” secretary Bayne Norrie said.

The pension plan was created in 1967, but over the years, players returned to the United States after playing in Canada and neglected to update their mailing addresses. The bulk of the “missing” pension plan members are reportedly from the U.S.

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Among the former players who were recently found are Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and ESPN broadcaster Jesse Palmer.

Even when they are found, it can still be difficult to wrap the players into the program. U.S.-based PensionBenefits received a list of 200 former players and contacted 130 of them to verify their identities. The pension board sent letters to those 130 players to inform them of their benefits and asked them to contact the company that manages the funds in order to be reactivated.

Only 26 of them did so.

“When you find 130 and only 26 guys respond, that’s discouraging,” said Fred James, chairman of the pension plan’s board of governors. “There are another 100 guys out there who know they have a pension plan, but don’t want to do anything to get activated.”

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With the average CFL career only lasting around three seasons, the amounts are usually not huge, but as James said, it’s their money -- accumulated growth on contributions the players made from their paychecks during their careers and matched by their teams.

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