NFL Players Association president JC Tretter is calling for a reexamination of a portion of the labor agreement with the league affecting disability coverage for former players.
Tretter, a center with the Cleveland Browns, succeeded Eric Winston as union president earlier this year. Tretter wants the NFLPA’s executive board and the leadership of former players to come together to discuss some offsets in the collective bargaining agreement narrowly approved by the players in March. The language the overall union membership voted on is not the same as what wound up in the deal that runs through the 2030 season.
The changed language affects about 400 retired players who face a cut in the disability coverage they had under the previous labor agreement.
Any review would be to determine whether the language change is substantial enough to present it to the league for possible alterations in the CBA. It would apply only to that portion of the agreement.
One member of the executive board, former Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, fears the union committed a disservice to those affected players.
“I was one of the guys, as soon as we got this through and we get hit up by a whole bunch of players that we need to immediately release a press release and make a statement about this,” Alexander said this week on the podcast Conduct Detrimental: The Sports Law. “But obviously, it never happened in my eyes, which is why I’ve been vocal as far as being apologetic on my behalf, as well as some of the other guys [who] feel the same way.
“Obviously, you would love for the union to get behind that. But we’ve fallen short in that. And I have no issue with admitting that, because we do need to acknowledge the impact that we’ve had on these men’s lives. And I’m sorry that it hasn’t been noted.”
A message was left seeking further comment from the union.
Attorney Ben Meiselas, who represents the retired players and free-agent safety Eric Reid, initially asked the union why that clause regarding disability payments was changed only after the agreement was ratified.
The NFLPA has acknowledged a change was made to the agreement, but only to correct an omission. The union added the change was not substantive.
Meiselas welcomed Tretter’s call for a meeting, which has not been scheduled.
“I think when we initially pointed out what the issues were and what the problems were, the first knee-jerk reaction from the NFLPA was to criticize and condemn,” Meiselas said Thursday, “when the glaring injustices that were in that CBA were in black and white for all to see.
“And so I am to some extent encouraged by the public statements from the president of the NFLPA that they now seem to recognize what the disabled players, with Eric Reid, who’s been their voice, and what we’ve all been saying from Day 1.”
Alexander raised the possibility of reworking a portion of the pension gains made in the CBA to help make those former players “whole,” as he put it.
“Is it too late to change it? No,” he said on the podcast, “because the CBA is a living, breathing document.”