By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editor
NFL Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson made headlines this week when he announced that he and a group of fellow Hall-of-Famers would be boycotting future Hall ceremonies and other related activities if the league did not provide them with health insurance and a $300,000 annual salary.
Dickerson and at least 20 other HOF players made their demands in a letter that was reportedly addressed to the Hall’s president, C. David Baker, along with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association Director DeMaurice Smith; the letter was obtained by ABC News, according to the news medium.
In this Aug. 2, 2014, file photo, enshrinee Eric Dickerson is introduced during the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, in Canton, Ohio. A group of Pro Football Hall of Famers is demanding health insurance coverage and a share of NFL revenues or else those former players will boycott the induction ceremonies. In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Hall of Fame President David Baker — and obtained by The Associated Press — 21 Hall of Fame members cited themselves as “integral to the creation of the modern NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue.” Among the signees were Eric Dickerson. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)
Those who signed the letter included notable football legends like Deion Sanders, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor and Joe Namath, among others. Jerry Rice and Kurt Warner’s names were also on the letter, though both of them later released personal statements, saying that while they would not be boycotting any Hall of Fame activities, they did support the request for better health care coverage for retired players.
“People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us. But on balance, it’s not,” the letter read. “As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.”
Dickerson also spoke directly to ABC News, and told them he doesn’t want just free health care coverage and a proper pension for the Hall’s members but, also, he wants the league to provide healthcare insurance for any and every player that retires from the NFL, regardless if they make it to the Hall of Fame.
“All of us feel like having health care is just a normal thing to have,” Dickerson said. “And I think it’s right. I think people are kind of losing the message that you know it’s all about the Hall of Fame. Well right now it’s all about the Hall of Famers because we can’t do anything because of the current CBA , we can’t go back in and do that. I want all players to have health care; every player that played in the National Football League.” https://www.google.com/amp/s/abcnews.go.com/amp/US/nfl-hall-famer-eric-dickerson-push-insurance-health/story%3fid=57927287
But the group’s request for a $300,000 lifetime annual salary has caused some to speculate if they may be asking for too much. Yahoo Sports senior NFL reporter Charles Robinson said asking for that kind of money for life “cheapens the message” he was trying to relay on the importance of health care for retirees.
“Guys in the NFL should have their health taken care of later in life. It’s a noble message. When a Hall of Fame player essentially says the NFL has a ton of new money and we laid this foundation, then throws out a $300,000 salary-for-life suggestion, that cheapens the message,” Robinson wrote, explaining how he agrees that NFL players should seek better pensions, “but seeking $300k a year for life for Hall of Famers is a reach for NFL revenues that never should have been mixed in with the health care argument.”
But Dickerson stated in his letter that $300,000 isn’t too much, citing how the NFL made $14 billion in revenue last year.
“The total cost for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance is less than $4 million – less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league generates in revenue,” the letter states. “Paying Hall of Famers an annual salary works out to about 40 cents for every $100 in annual revenue, a figure that will increase dramatically in the near future with legalized gambling.”
Dickerson also mentioned to reporters how MLB players make more than $200,000 in pension salary, so if it can be done in pro baseball, it should be fine for ex-football players, too.
“If you played in the MLB for 10 years you get $220,000 a year and free health care,” Dickerson told Fox Sports. “We’re nowhere near that.” https://twitter.com/foxsportsradio/status/1042550762704797701?s=21
While some call Dickerson’s efforts noble, others have begun to call him out for not having that same energy years ago, when he broke the picket line during a players’ boycott that would have given retired players better benefits.
NBC Sports writer Michael D. Smith reported that NFL players had gone on strike in 1987, and one of the main agendas they were boycotting for was a better pension for the retired legends of the game. But Dickerson helped end the strike when he gave in and rejoined his team.
“When players went on strike for better benefits, Eric Dickerson undermined them,” Smith wrote.