By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
THE 4TH INDEPENDENT RETIRED NFL PLAYERS SUMMIT & CONFERENCE
Inspired by not only by the attendance, presenters, and what transpired during The Summit, we as organizers knew that if we wanted to pursue meaningful change for the retired player and their families, we needed to make The Summit an ongoing event. In doing so, our intent was to eventually bring our 17,000+ retirees together, cultivate and increase our credibility, and prove through the strategically focused strength of our activist labors that we could achieve the creation of an organization where every retired NFL players with at least one Credited Season could have a solid base where their voices would be heard and legally represented.
To that extent, we unfailingly worked to make The Summit a consistent event in Las Vegas at the end of May. Each year we continued to present the same level of vetted presenters—medical experts, legal associates, advocacy groups and media supporters—with like-minded principles and good intentions toward our retirees and our mutual goals of increasing pensions and benefits for retirees.
From the achievements of the 2012 Summit, we knew the time to actually start moving toward unification had come. Through the previous Summits, we listened not only to our presenters, but also to our player colleagues, their wives and widows to better formulate a positive “Global Strategy” to address the problems and situations plaguing too many of us.
Through League liaisons, we know the NFL owners are open to exploring a reasonable means to resolving the retired players problem, and the potential of a Global Settlement, for the first time between the two is within reach. However, we also know in order to do so we must get out of the “victim” role and into one of real empowerment. Understanding that more of a “win-win” business approach better served our aim of a new direction, the need to align with compatible corporate, business and community entities became the origin of our new strategy to realize our aspirations and goals.
Our first step was to legally incorporate our organization, creating a name that best represented all retired players and our “one man, one vote” policy—Retired NFL Players Congress, Inc. Since then, our bi-weekly meetings have been focused on solidifying alliances, partnerships with like player groups and legal counsel, developing business plans and programs to benefit Players Congress Members, including Associate Members and corporate sponsors, furthering media affiliations and alliances with Community Outreach organizations. All has been aimed at exploring actual ways through which we can grow our pension program to a level that matches Major League Baseball’s.
2009 marked the first Independent Retired Football Players Summit & Conference, held in Las Vegas on May 29 – 31 and organized by the then Independent Advocates of Retired Football Players. The premise of the gathering was to be inclusive, and to educate our attendees on the current health, legal and political issues facing the retired player and their families. Invitations were extended to all retired players, player groups, wives, widows, advocates, NFL officials, and the new Executive Director of the NFLPA.
Although no one from the NFL or the NFLPA attended that first Summit, the door was opened to a new era bringing forth for the FIRST time a collection of retired players, player groups, individuals, medical researchers, class-action attorneys, pension and benefit specialists, wives, widows, former NFLPA employees and media—all who had been individually working toward improving the quality of life for the retired players and their families. The attendance and overwhelming success of The Summit far exceeded everyone’s expectations and provided incentive for the NFL and NFLPA to earnestly give new attention to what we were doing, overriding their original stance that we were not to be taken seriously.