“DIGNITY AFTER FOOTBALL” is an organization committed to giving a voice to past heroes of the NFL and to finally restoring dignity to the lives of thousands of disabled and under-pensioned former players. We are working with Congress and hopefully current players. We plan to emulate, unite with, and compliment Bruce Laird's Fourth and Goal and Gridiron Greats ; (don't forget the new DavePear.com) to help them carry the load, and to move our cause forward in new ways.

We have heard from you fellow retirees loud and clear, we will give you a rallying banner and public forum for thousands of yet-unheard from former players, especially in the western half of the U.S.  



To “SHINE THE LIGHT” on the problem the NFL pays millions a year to keep in the dark, the suffering of the men who built the league. The one thing the NFL cannot endure is the light of day shining on their shady benefits operations! The best way to shine the light is to keep telling our truths, tell ALL our stories en masse. DAF will be a grass roots effort, encouraging local chapters and your own activity with legislators and media.

Too many men are suffering today, the NFL’s “Delay, Deny, and Hope We Die” strategy is not just a motto, it is the truth. DAF seeks to find the quickest solution to this problem, to reverse unjust disability claims denials. And to dramatically increase pensions that are below poverty level.

Dignity After Football!!!!




write in with YOUR opinions, to  bboyd62@aol.com

email letters to bboyd62@aol,com



April 13, 2008

(letter from former NFLPA  empoyee Valerie Thomas to DAF)-

The State of the Union (Gene Upshaw Players Association, G.U.P.A.)   Gene has manipulated his position such that he was re-elected from 2007 to March 2010 instead of March 2006 to March 2009.  He will turn 65 in August 2010 and his employment contract will end December 2010.  Anybody who challenges him, must have someone else pulling their string.  Hey, he called Matt Stover a puppet.  Matt can think for himself or has Gene just revealed that he's the only one who can "pull someone's string"?

  Manipulation:  Elections for the Exec. Dir. position is every three years.  In March 2003 Upshaw was elected until March 2006.  The 2006 election process was, hmmmm how shall I say this, delayed until March 2007 (and was considered "just a formality").  In February 2007, one month before his election in March 2007, Upshaw negotiated his employment contract through December 2010.  Hey he negotiated at least two employment contracts beyond his election term/years.  (look at the LM2 reports)  Is Gene an elected official or a contractual employee??   

Rules:  Upshaw instituted a rule (the same as the NFL) for mandatory retirement at age 65.  However, his contract ends 4 months after the "rule."  His statements to the press indicate that he will not leave his position until he is satisfied with his replacement (???beyond 2010???).  After all, he only wants the players to focus on upcoming negotiations.  As usual he will try to break his own rule since he made it clear that he voluntarily instituted it.  

No. 2 position - Upshaw recently stated that he didn't find it necessary to fill the Asst. Exec. Dir. position - one in which some people thought that Troy Vincent would get.  Then he turned around, after some stink, and hired a staff member, Clark Gaines to the position.  

The players absolutely need to start the process/search committee for filling the Exec. Dir. position.  It's their right and there doesn't have to a motive to do so.  

The players need to assert their Constitutional authority, otherwise, Gene will try to remain in position for LIFE (there might be a lockout or something in 2011 after the CBA expires in 2010) and you'll have to pay him a hefty consultant fee.  Oh, by the way, his re-elected term ends in March 2010 before he turns 65 in August 2010 and before his contract ends in December 2010.  

Okay young folk do you want to be marionettes or future leaders?  

If Upshaw was truly a great leader he would have been grooming, mentoring, schooling, some younger players to run the NFLPA.  Instead he comes off as though he and only he can do the job adequately or that you guys are so ungrateful since he has done such a marvelous job.  Hey guys, y'all owe Gene!   Wrong....what would players do (W.W.P.D.) if anyone in the position became ill or died suddenly?    

It's time for the players to take control of their union.  Upshaw is an elected official, hired by the Exec. Committee to run the daily operations of the NFLPA and Players Inc.  They need to mandate that there be two Assistant  Executive Directors, as in the past history of the NFLPA.  Everybody has checks and balances....not at the NFLPA.   

Gene might kick and scream about leaving, nevertheless, he WAS elected through March 2010 and he DOES have an employment contract through December 2010 (there's no telling what are the terms of the contract - and, er, um Gene knew the mandatory retirement rule when he negotiated his contract and that his elected term would end in March 2010 - that's how little respect he has for rules, regulations, policies, election process, etc.   Will the players forego the March 2010 election?  Terminate Gene's contract in August 2010 when he turns 65?  Or, will the player reps and executive committee members just accept the notion that their democratic, election process has, by precedence, become...just a formality.  Is the contract invalid since Gene knew about the "rules?" 

Bad faith??   Gee whiz Matt, Troy and other perceived adversaries, welcome to the Club.  The NFLPA, under Upshaw's leadership, spent between $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 in legal fees against me when I told the truth, when asked, to Executive Committee members.   They attempted to turn legitimate business concerns into a he said/she said scenario.  

I worked from 1983 to 1988, was fired; challenged the injustice, was reinstated from 1999 to 2003, and was fired again.  I was four months short of 20 years of seniority/pension which the NFLPA refused to comply with.    There is a lawsuit pending, that was initiated by my union (Local 2 OPEIU) when the NFLPA refused to issue me access to my job (I was required to use a public stairwell to walk up to the 7th floor for 19 months); refused to back-pay and pension.  The reason for the refusal of access to my job was illegal and retaliatory - because of the "Title VII attorney fee litigation and my UNION ACTIVITY."   

Local 2, OPEIU has been intimidated, taxed and had their money pockets exhausted as a result of representing me in litigation for over 20 years.  The NFLPA sued my arbitrator when they did not like the decision, boycott a hearing and refused to honor the reinstatement decision even after court enforcement.  Gene was judge, jury and prosecutor after my reinstatement.  

I want an investigation, an apology and retribution.  Your leadership fired me upon my return from the sudden and unexpected death of my mother and lied under oath about my compliance with its rules and other provable lies about the facts.  I should have received the assistance of the Association.  I qualified for benefits that protected my job under the Family Medical Leave Act, instead the NFLPA paid your legal advisor to confuse the matter and deny me benefits.  The NFLPA stated, in a court document, that Local 2 represented me in arbitration regarding my EEOC complaint.  Local 2 did not represent me and instead are victims of union domination.  It's the same beast that has attacked your retired brothers and now active players.   *************************************************************************************************************************  Timeline - 

Elections - March 2003 to March 2006  (Upshaw elected to 3 year term)                                                  

Elections - March 2006 to March 2009 (Executive Director term is every 3 years;Troy Vincent  elected to a 2 year term 2006 thru 2008)  (No election for Executive Director - why not?? Perhaps there was pressing business)                   

Contract -  February 2007 through December 2010 (Upshaw's employment contract)                   

Elections - March 2007 through March 2010 (just a formality; Upshaw re-elected to 3 year term)                   

Upshaw's Term Ends - March 2010 (will there be an election in March 2010?)                   

Elections - If mandatory retirement is lifted, Upshaw could be re-elected from                                 

March 2010 through March 2013                   

Upshaw turns 65 - August 2010 (mandatory retirement)                  

 Contract ends - December 2010   ***************************************************************************************************************************   My final point for thought...If Gene challenges any ousting, will he use the players money to sue the NFLPA to enforce his election and contract?  PROBABLY, so, ain't that some shizzz!!!  

Valerie Thomas

April 10, 2008

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By way of introduction my name is Mel Owens, a former 10-Year player with the Los Angeles Rams ’81-’91.


I am now an Attorney in Southern California representing professional players with their Disability Benefits.  These include:


  • 1.      Total and Permanent Disability Benefits
  • 2.      Line-of-Duty Benefits
  • 3.      Workers’ Compensation Benefits


As you probably know, the NFLPA / NFL have “expanded” some of these benefits, albeit for a specific time frame.


The purpose of this email is to alert you and our colleagues, that you may still be eligible for these benefits – even if you were told otherwise, and these benefits are quite substantial, both monetarily, and medically.


You may even think that you have exhausted your benefits, i.e. early retirement, workers’ compensation, Line-of-Duty, social security, Total and Permanent, etc.  In many instances, this is not the case.


I would encourage you to investigate further and pass this information and my number along to your friends.


Best regards,


Mel Owens, Esq.

LA Rams

310-925-7181 (cell)


“a sure friend is known when in difficulty”- Quintus Ennius









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