To the Editor:
A few months ago, I wrote an Op-Ed in this newspaper that was highly critical of the quality of the National Football League’s pension and health care benefits available to the retired players who made this game the greatest sport in the world. I was also highly skeptical that the talks underway between the league and the players union on a new collective bargaining agreement would result in any meaningful improvement.
A few weeks ago, the question I had posed — would the league and players step up for the men on whose shoulders the N.F.L. was built? — was largely answered. And the answer is yes. The N.F.L. and the National Football League Players Association ratified a new agreement that will govern the game for the next decade and provides unprecedented improvements in benefits that will help transform the lives of thousands of former N.F.L. players and their families.
Thousands of former players and their beneficiaries will see their pensions increase by 50 percent or more. Those players who were never eligible for pensions will now receive a pension of almost $20,000 per year.
In addition, former players who retired before the Health Reimbursement Account benefit was established will now have a $50,000 benefit to help pay for insurance or other health and medical bills.
These improved benefits were long overdue, but I’m glad that both sides stepped up and made an agreement that delivered dignified pensions for the thousands of retirees and their families.
I want to thank everyone who worked collectively to make this great change.
The writer is the former running back for the Cleveland Browns.