Retired players upset with NFLPA

IRVING -- Several retired NFL players are upset with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. They include Jeff Nixon, a former Buffalo Bills player who asked for the union to open up their financial books.

Former Cowboys tight end Billy Joe DuPree, Abner Haynes (AFL's Houston Texans), Fred Dean (Los Angeles Rams) and Hall of Famers Elvin Bethea and Joe DeLamielleure were among those to express frustration that Smith believes past problems between the union and retired players are over.

Retired players are upset with the pension and disablity programs established by the league and the union and how money is distributed through the marketing arm of the league.

"It was not set up to help us, it was set up to help the owners," said Haynes, who was the first African American to play college football at North Texas.

On May 19, Smith, at a luncheon at the Charlotte Touchdown Club, said the union vowed to work for increased retiree benefits in the next collective bargaining agreement, which ends in March 2011. Smith even suggested each NFL team put aside $1 million each year to boost pensions.

"Our issues, or some of our issues, are going to stretch not only from players today, but they're going to reach back to players before us and they're certainly going to push forward to players ahead of us," Smith said.

It still wasn't enough for the retired players, especially for DuPree, who wrote a book called "The NFL: The unbroken line detailing the NFL labor issues in the 1980s".

"It's not about a group of guys, it's about all the guys," DuPree said.

However, since 2007, the NFLPA has contributed $216.3 million to the players' retired income plans, much higher what the baseball ($117.5), NBA ($34.3 million) and NHL ($29 million) has contributed to their various retired players.

A plan was set up, named Plan 88, to provide eligible former players up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia and Alzheimer's.

Benefits for surviving widows and children benefits were also tripled.

"How about taking care of the husbands now before they pass on," Nixon said.

The retired players, who held a news conference at a Marriott down the street from the NFL owners meetings in Las Colinas, said they would like to meet with Smith and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell but nothing has been set up.