The NFL partnered with a group of well-known retired players Monday to announce the creation of a $42 million “common good fund” designed to benefit former players in their lives away from the game.
The fund was part of a settlement reached after a class-action lawsuit was filed seeking compensation for the use of retired players’ images in NFL Films footage. As part of the agreement, the NFL will contribute the money, which will be used to provide various forms of assistance to retired players — including medical, housing and career transition assistance.
“It’s a new day,” Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, a former Baltimore Colts player, said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. “Fortunately it’s better late than never. I am honored that this day has arrived. I am very grateful it’s here.”
Unlike player pensions — which only are activated once an athlete has played three seasons in the league — any player who ever has been on an NFL roster is eligible to receive assistance from the common good fund, regardless of years of service.
The settlement also establishes a first-of-its-kind licensing agency dedicated to managing the publicity rights of retired players. This agency will be overseen by a seven-member board of former players and will help contribute to the fund in perpetuity. The league also will provide financial and promotional support to the agency.
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown was among the former players on hand for the announcement and expressed his pleasure at the agreement.
“I’m very happy to have this opportunity to represent … all of the players in the National Football League — the retirees who have been overlooked for so many years,” Brown said. “(The fund) will allow us to reach out and to help a lot of our players who really need help.”
In addition, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced an expansion of the league’s partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in an effort to eliminate drunk driving.
“We’ve had several meetings with MADD,” Goodell said. “We are very proud about this relationship and working to educate our executives, our players, everybody about the dangers of drunk driving and what we need to do to be responsible role models in this area.”
Goodell said members of MADD would be on hand to make presentations to owners and the general assembly at this week’s NFL Annual Meeting.
– Marcas Grant, contributing editor