Nearly two dozen gridiron legends were listed among a group of Pro Football Hall of Fame board members who formally demanded that each of the 318 living players enshrined in Canton, OH receive adequate benefits for their contributions to the sport, on Tuesday, September 18.
Joe Namath, Marcus Allen, Marshall Faulk, Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders, Ronnie Lott, and Jim Brown were just a few of the notables who are confirmed to have signed on to a notice that reportedly addresses Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and Hall of Fame President David Baker with an ultimatum that could very well leave vacant seats at the annual induction ceremony.
The letter, which was authorized by class of 1999 inductee and board chairman Eric Dickerson, calls upon the front office to agree to an arrangement whereby retirees would be afforded health insurance coverage and a share of the revenue pulled in by executives overseeing operations each year. The National Football League is reported to have accrued a bountiful $14 billion in 2017. The board is proposing that 40 cents out of every $100 made go towards paying the Hall of Fame collective an annual salary. What’s more, reps estimate that it would only cost the league $4 million, or three cents out of ever $100 earned, to cover members with insurance.
“The time has come for us to be treated as part of a game we’ve given so much to,” the letter states, after putting the league’s priorities into question given the $40 million yearly salary the commissioner was satisfied with this past year. “Until our demands are met, the Hall of Famers will not attend the annual induction ceremony in Canton.”
Contrary to the impression of solidarity that the board projected itself having with the tone of the controversial announcement, not every hall of famer who was included among the 22 accounted for is on board with a possible protest. Within hours of the statement leaking to the press, both Jerry Rice and Kurt Warner came forward to deny that they had ever planned to take such action.
“While I appreciate the efforts of those spearheading this movement and I fully support the fight to gain better benefits for past, current and future NFL players […] I do not believe boycotting is the means to the end in this instance,” Warner clarified in a response that he issued via Twitter.
Dickerson would later address the mix-up by blaming Rice and Warner’s confusion on a miscommunication and accusing NFL beat writers of trying to sow division between Hall of Fame players. He’d also go on to amend the list by removing Rice and Warner’s names.
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