Pearson wonders if settlement is enough

IRVING, Texas -- Drew Pearson was not among the 4,500 plaintiffs in the suit brought against the NFL, but the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor wide receiver will be among the players to benefit from Thursday’s settlement.

Pearson, however, wonders if the $765 million agreement is enough.

“It helps players immediately,” Pearson said. “There are so many players that need help and so many that are suffering in that regard, so it’s good. But also at the same time, I don’t think it’s enough money. How can you say it’s not enough? Well, look at the revenue generated by the league. This is a payout over 20 years, so that $765 million comes down to $24 million a team. That’s a drop in the bucket to the NFL. I don’t know that we would’ve won the case. I think it would’ve been hard for the players to prove it in court … but still, if the NFL was willing to settle we should’ve held out for a little more, knowing that the revenues for the NFL will increase through the term of the settlement significantly.”

Pearson spent 11 seasons with the Cowboys (1973-83) and was named to the All-Decade team of the 1970s. In 1980 he became the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, and took over the top yardage spot in 1983. He led the Cowboys in receiving from 1974-77 and helped win Super Bowl XII.

Like fellow Ring of Honor member Cliff Harris, Pearson is happy to see that former players in dire need of help will receive it.

Pearson, 62, said he has some health issues, like memory lapses and pain in his right knee. This summer he attended a banquet honoring Harris in Little Rock, Ark., with teammates Roger Staubach, Charlie Waters and some others, and noticed they all had some sort of issues.

“You don’t notice it until you’re around the guys, because we’re so used to dealing with pain and discomfort and are so used to overcoming things that our mental threshold is greater than others in dealing with it,” Pearson said. “Plus, we know why it’s happening. We know why Charlie’s had the post-career surgeries he’s had. He gave up his body for the game.

“I was in the training room with Charlie, and he’s taking shots in his ankle, knee and shoulder just to play the game that Sunday. You’re not thinking about that might be a problem. You’re thinking, ‘Yeah, way to go Charlie. That’s a teammate there. He’ll do anything.’”

Pearson said the lack of education and protocol led to players suffering more. He estimated he had at least one concussion a year, even if he was never officially diagnosed with one.

“I’m not saying if we were educated we wouldn’t have played,” Pearson said. “I probably still would’ve played knowing the ramifications, because I love the game. But if we were better educated then, we might be dealing with it a lot better and recognize the symptoms. When we played we were the judge and the jury, because when we got hurt it was up to us. Coach (Tom) Landry asked you, ‘Can you go?’ He didn’t go to the doctors and say, ‘Can he go?’ He came to us and asked, and you said yes, no matter what the circumstances might be.”