NFL announces pension plan for retired players

Posted Nov. 14, 2011 @ 11:29 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

The NFL and NFLPA have reached an agreement on how to distribute the $620 million Legacy Fund, designed to help retired players from the '60s, '70s and '80s, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to NFL fans Monday.

Players whose pensions were vested before 1993 will all see benefit increases, with those vested before 1975 receiving the biggest increases. For example, a 10-year veteran who retired in the 1960s would see his pension increase from $200 to $1,840.

Benefits for retired players were a major issue during the collective-bargaining negotiations between players and owners during the summer. Retired players at one point threatened their own lawsuit to make sure they were taken care of.

The full text of Goodell's letter is quoted below:

To NFL Fans:

We hope you are enjoying the NFL season. The playoff race is shaping up and promises to bring even more excitement as we head into the holiday season. My purpose in writing now is to update you on steps we are taking to help our older retired players — the heroes of the 60s, 70s, and 80s who deserve great credit for their role in building the NFL into what it is today.  

These players did something for the game of football. Now it's our turn to do something for them.

It's easy to say we appreciate them. But our actions need to tell the same story. That's why we are proud of the agreement we reached with the union this week on how to distribute the $620 million Legacy Fund set aside in our new collective bargaining agreement. It means we will begin paying higher benefits immediately to all retired players whose pensions vested before 1993.

This new Legacy Fund benefit has three important components:

  1. Every player will receive a major pension increase. We have significantly raised the pension floor of minimum monthly payments.
  2. Players whose pensions vested before 1975 — the players who played for the lowest salaries — are getting the biggest increase.  
  3. The Legacy Fund benefits will continue not only for the lifetime of the retired player, but also for the lifetime of his eligible beneficiary.

The formula for distributing the $620 million fund was designed after we discussed it with leaders of several retired player groups, including Mike Ditka, Carl Eller, Bruce Laird, Willie Lanier, George Martin and Ron Mix. The new benefit applies to more than 4,700 players who were vested in the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle Player Pension Plan prior to 1993.

Here are two examples of how the Legacy Fund will significantly increase monthly pension payments to many retired players:

Nothing we do or say can ever fully express our appreciation for the dedicated players who built the NFL. But I believe that the Legacy Fund is an important step in the right direction. Paired with our efforts to set a higher standard for player health and safety, it represents the shared commitment and responsibility of the National Football League and its players to improve the lives of the men who played the game yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

— Roger Goodell