Nolan Harrison III played 10 years for the LA/Oakland Raiders, Steelers and the Redskins. He’s now a Vice President with First Midwest Bank’s Trust and Investment Management and a hard-working advocate for the (NFLPA) National Football League Players Association. The NFLPA was originally established by the players for the players in 1956 to help gain the much needed benefits for their post-football lives.
The NFLPA Players Assistance Trust Fund is in place to assist players faced with catastrophic financial and health-related issues. Former players may apply for grants at the maximum $20,000 amount for financial/medical needs and $10,000 educational grants (undergraduate needs only). Since its inception, the fund has paid out $7.1 million dollars as of 2009.
Harrison stresses the importance of keeping the current benefits for NFL players along with establishing the Legacy Fund for players who retired before 1993. He states, “Current players have the best benefits package in all of professional sports. They have a pension, matching 2 to 1 401K, annuity, five years post-career medical, and a medical savings account (MSA) that has contributions matching the number of years played (a 10-year vet has $300,000 to pay medical related bills).
NFLPA is also currently working with players on financial management and career transition. All of these benefits end in the 2010 season except for disability, due to the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) opt-out by the owners. Past years of struggle have paid off in rewarding current players with their benefits. The NFLPA is fighting to keep those benefits.
“A crucial reason why the Legacy Fund is needed is because players playing pre-1993 do not get any of these benefits,” Nolan recently told me. A multitude of long-time retired NFL players continue to suffer from physical ailments and brain trauma and desperately need medical benefits to cover the costs.
Current Executive Director for the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, makes player health and safety a top priority. The NFLPA website says,” in October 2009, the NFLPA announced the formation of its own Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Committee, chaired by Medical Director Thom Mayer and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Sean Morey.”
The NFLPA recently announced that it will partner with the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at Boston University. The Center focuses its effort on studying the effects of repetitive brain trauma in athletes.
You can go to the NFLPA’s website for a listing of all benefits they offer current and former players. NFL players are known for their passion and strength on the field. Players continue to use those same qualities as they fight to retain their benefits, both now and for the future.