Pro Football Hall of Famers demand NFL health insurance, salaries

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A group of 22 NFL Hall of Fame inductees on Tuesday threatened to boycott future induction ceremonies if the league does not grant them permanent health insurance and a slice of annual revenue.

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In a letter obtained by ESPN to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame president C. David Baker, the former players said the NFL’s previous attempts to “appease” them amount to “public relations ploys” rather than effective solutions for the “severe health and financial problems” they face.  The letter’s signers include Joe Namath, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, among other league greats.

“We believe we deserve more,” the letter said. “We write to demand two things: Health insurance and an annual salary for all Hall of Famers that includes a share of league revenue. It might seem like a lot, but it’s a drop in the bucket for the country’s most profitable sports league.”

The NFL earned an estimated $14 billion in revenue during its 2017 league year, according to multiple reports, more than any of the four major U.S. sports leagues. The inductees argue that health insurance for every Pro Football Hall of Famer would cost about 3 cents for every $100 the league earns, while an annual salary would cost about 40 cents per $100 in revenue.

An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The NFL is notorious for the hard line it takes against players in negotiations. Yet the league always seems to have plenty of money for other priorities,” the letter said, noting that Goodell earns $40 million annually under the terms of his recent contract extension.


The inductees say they are prepared to skip future induction ceremonies, which are traditionally attended by most, if not all, living Pro Football Hall of Fame members. The Pro Football Hall of Fame celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020.

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