BEAVER DAM, Wis. – On Wednesday, the Green Bay Packers released their annual financial report where president Mark Murphy decried that “player costs are growing at twice the rate of revenue," sure to be a point of contention between the owners and the players as they look to strike a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) before the start of next season.
On Thursday, two former Packers expressed their doubts that the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will have the retirees best interests at heart in the fight for better benefits when the owners and the NFLPA sit down at the negotiating table to hammer out a new CBA.
While at a charity fundraising event Thursday in Beaver Dam, former wide receivers Boyd Dowler and Bob Long, two Vince Lombardi-era Packers, voiced strong opinions that NFL alumni aren't going to be at the forefront of future labor discussions.
"Retirees, we're kind of an afterthought," said Long. "They might say they're trying to get stuff for retirees, but it may come down to to a negotiating point with the owners. Who gets a bigger pension, active players or retired players? I guarantee it will be the active players, not the retirees. That's how I kind of feel. They may say that, but that's bogus."
Given that Long is a former president of NFLPA Retirees in Wisconsin, his word would seem to carry a little more weight than the ordinary retired player. And Dowler echoes his sentiments.
Asked if he hopes that there will be better benefits in the future, Dowler responded, "I hope there will be. I don't know if there's any thoughts or plans to that affect at this point. I'd be certainly surprised if there were."
Both NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith have publicly said they're fighting for improvements to benefits for the retired player. But the two have also squabbled and played the blame game on their respective websites, to which NFL Alumni Association have called for "a little less talk and a lot more action" from both of them.
"While the propaganda suggests otherwise, little or no action has been taken by the NFL and NFLPA to increase pensions for retired players," said the NFL Alumni Association in an statement published online.
Maybe that's because "Smith insists current players shouldn't suffer with their own wages and benefits in such a deal," as the Associated Press writes, leading NFL alumni to believe their interests are far behind that of current players.
"They have a [players association] for current players, and that's who they are really for," said Long. "If they have a lockout, that's who they're fighting for bigger raises, for the active players. They don't need raises in my opinion, but they want to get more and more and more."
Smith has called for a united front amongst current and former players, but judging from the reaction from the two sixties-era Packers, that hasn't happened yet.
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