Pro Football Hall Of Famers to boycott induction ceremonies if they don't get health insurance, cut of league revenue
Some members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame say they will not attend the yearly induction ceremony until they receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of the league's revenue, according to ESPN's Arash Markazi.
In a letter, which was obtained by ESPN, sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Pro Football Hall of Fame and CEO David Baker, the players outline their grievances and want to "establish a template for active players in the next round of CBA negotiations for the expiration of the current deal in 2021."
The players say there has been a deliberate attempt to divide active and retired players.
There are 22 Hall of Fame members that attached their name to the letter, including Hall of Fame Board chairman Eric Dickerson.
The letter was signed by Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Kurt Warner and Sarah White, the widow of Reggie White.
"We demand nothing less than this," the letter said, according to ESPN. "In the past, the NFL has tried to appease retired players by creating programs like the $620 million “Legacy Fund.” But from our own experience, and in speaking with other retired players, we know that such bureaucracies have proven to be little more than cynical public relations ploys that fail to help those who desperately need it."
The letter says it costs less than $4 million for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance.
The former players also cite Goodell's reported $40 million annual salary, the league's $14 billion in revenue and the ongoing construction of the Hall of Fame Village, which is projected to cost $1 billion.
"It’s not right to invest in such a project without first acknowledging the league’s debt to its great players. We are the reason people visit the Hall of Fame in the first place."
The letter also pointed to other sports, such as Major League Baseball, whose insurance and pension structure is vastly different from the NFL's.
“A baseball player who has appeared on a Major League roster for one day is entitled to health insurance for the rest of his life,” the letter said. “A player employed on a roster for 43 days gets a lifetime pension.”
The Hall of Famers say the league's marketing slogan of “Football is Family" needs to ring true.
“We agree, which is why we’re demanding to be treated like family members who are integral to the league’s present and future,” the letter said. “As the legends of the game’s past, we deserve nothing less.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Warner tweeted a statement saying that he was not aware of the letter and his name was "mistakenly attached to it."
Warner also said that he does not believe boycotting is "the means to the end in this instance."
"I am hopeful that all sides will come together and have serious conversations about what needs to be accomplished to continue to make our league the greatest in the world, both for those currently involved and for the pioneers on which it was built," Warner said.