FanDuel - WFBC

February 11, 2007

Lefty Answers Prayers of Football's Dirtiest Player: Who would have ever thought the former dirtiest player in the NFL would have a guardian angel who swings a golf club?

posted by dyams to football at 04:53 PM - 34 comments

damn you, dyams, you have given me a reason to root for mickelson. i applaud "lefty" for his charity. also, i hope more will be done for retired football players who suffer on a daily basis with health and mental problems as a result of football

posted by erkno11 at 05:15 PM on February 11

This is a great story, except that while reading it, I couldn't help but wonder why it had to fall to someone in another sport to pick up the slack that the NFLPA is running away from at a full sprint.

posted by chicobangs at 05:23 PM on February 11

Yay for Mickelson, Booooooo the NFL. Billon dollar league that couldn't care less about these former players. How many stories like this have we heard by now? I can't think of anything other than sheer greed that encourages this status quo.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:01 PM on February 11

Erkno, I see it another way. Just another reason to root for Phil. Good on him.

posted by hawkguy at 07:03 PM on February 11

Good on Phil, there are so many people in sports and entertainment just worried about 'getting theirs', and not spending any of it on anyone but themselves. I suspect Phil has sat with his accountant and figured his childrens children can't spend all he's earned. It is nice to see someone who has made more money than most people in the world could dream of, taking a tiny bit of it, and helping someone, anyone. Perhaps this could motivate a few others who have been so blessed and they might help out as well.

posted by tommytrump at 09:06 PM on February 11

I'm sure many of you saw the HBO special on this recently. Dobler was in shorts and they showed his knees and they were unbelievable (swollen about 5 times the size they should be and just a giant mess of scars on top of scars). He spent over 100 days in the hospital this past year. The report said that even the NFL's doctors said that he was 90% incompacitated from his legs, but that he could do "stationary" work (i.e. sit at a desk). His disability claim was rejected. As he pointed out, NFL players don't even file for disability when they find out he got rejected. Without disability, the NFL pension is something like 24k/year (compared to baseball/basketball which is about 150k or so). 24k won't even cover most of their surgeries/rehab. And as long as they can do "stationary" work, no matter how bad they are, the disability is always rejected. Of the 7000 former players, something like 118 are considered disabled. Gene Upshaw is on record saying "I work for the current players. They pay my salaries, not the former players", so that is why they don't pursue it. Any money to support them would have to come out of current players pockets based on the current agreements, and current players can't be bothered to worry about former players even though one day they will be "former" players too. The sad part is, Dobler ended the interview saying that he now considers suicide, just so he can quit being a burden on his family. He said "they shoot horses don't they?" A really sad state.

posted by bdaddy at 10:49 PM on February 11

Phil really personifies the nature of the PGA, and why it continues to set the bar high for other pro sports leagues. Not only is he good natured and accessible to fans, but a genuinely compassionate human being.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:33 AM on February 12

There are none better than 'Lefty'. If you look into the amount of time and energy he devotes to charitable cause, to education interests, and to his family, it explains why every fan of golf should pull for him. The best example I can think of happens every time Phil wins a tournament. His children run to greet him. He lets nothing stand between him and the children and everything else is put on hold until the children have had some time with Dad. What else has to be said about a truly remarkable person.

posted by brbcca at 08:43 AM on February 12

Does this mean i have to quit "hating" Phil?? Phil really is a humble and respectful person. In regards to the NFL, if they go back and pay one claim, the pandora's box of claims will be opened. Hundreds upon hundreds of players would immediately file a claim. It may very well cost the NFL one of those billions they have in the bank. Better to let the old guard die off or kill themselves off before addressing post career bodily damage. Concussions is number 1 on the list for the NFL today, not paying for the thousands of destroyed knees of the players of the 60's and 70's. For the record, I strongly disagree with the NFL's position on this.

posted by gdaddydog at 08:58 AM on February 12

In regards to the NFL, if they go back and pay one claim, the pandora's box of claims will be opened. Hundreds upon hundreds of players would immediately file a claim. That's what I really think is behind this problem, too. It would be staggering, money-wise, for the NFL to tackle this problem right now, especially realizing the severity of health issues former players are dealing with. This being said, though, it's still not right. The league should have planned for this years and years ago, and at least have been in a position to assist in getting these guys some help. Anything they do to help current players in the future will be ridiculous, though, seeing as how the money they now make is so completely out of whack with the rest of society. They should have the presence of mind to plan for these things now, realizing they will deal with them in the future. Unfortunately, players from years ago didn't make the money or have the knowledge of what life would be like for them, and how crazy the cost of health care would be. Mickelson, though, has always seem to me to be a fairly well adjusted guy who has his priorities straight. The thing about him isn't that money is a problem, because it isn't. The thing is he actively chooses to do this type of thing, and people like Conrad Dobler and his family I'm sure are really feeling blessed that he does.

posted by dyams at 09:55 AM on February 12

I am kind of on the NFL's side on this one. How many corporations have dropped health insurance (or made it very expensive) for their retirees? These folks are encouraged to make plans for their retirement while still working and to not count on the employer nor Social Security for their retlirement well being. NFL player salaries are much higher than the norm for the time they are playing. Maybe they should have the foresight to spend some of this salary on some retirement security.

posted by wwarrior at 10:01 AM on February 12

NFL player salaries are much higher than the norm for the time they are playing. Maybe they should have the foresight to spend some of this salary on some retirement security. So are the television contracts, the ticket prices, the concession revenue and anything else that generates revenue for the NFL. Don't you think the NFL could generate some extra revenue to take care of the retirees? Or is this just another case of big business shirking their social responsibility to the employees?

posted by danjel at 10:27 AM on February 12

Maybe they should have the foresight to spend some of this salary on some retirement security. I'm pretty sure that a pension is supposed to be retirement security. The fact that their pension was going to be completely inadequate to survive is not likely something they knew when they were at the bargaining table. Does the NFL covers medical bills related to football injuries for ex-players?

posted by bperk at 11:07 AM on February 12

Very well stated, Chico, I couldn't agree more! My respect for Phil Mickelson has definitely gone up a notch! For Gene Upshaw, not so much. I truely wonder why the NFL does not do something for these retired players in light of how much profit it rakes in. Maybe they should start a fund and deposit all the fine money they collect from players and distribute it to the retirees. (I know, that money now goes to a charity of the player's choice, if I am not mistaken) As for planning for the future, I have observed that the more you make the more you spend. You gotta have the nicer car, the bigger house, the summer home, the big boat, the designer clothes, the latest everything. The current big bucks players probably don't think they will ever go through the money they are making now. Also there is the "it won't happen to me because...." attitude. But I do think the attention the retired players have been getting have made the current players more aware of planning for the future.

posted by steelergirl at 11:14 AM on February 12

P.S Great post, dyams!

posted by steelergirl at 11:16 AM on February 12

Does the NFL covers medical bills related to football injuries for ex-players? This compilation of articles talks about many aspects of this issue, including the following: >The collective bargaining agreement says a player who "incurs a substantial injury that is a significant factor in causing his retirement from football' is entitled to 100 percent of his monthly pension payment - and at least $1,000 per month - for 7 1/2 years. But critics have said it is difficult to qualify for disability payments. But according to Jerry Kramer, the former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman from 1958 to 1968, not many former players are pleased at all. Herb Adderley, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, receives just $126.85 per month from his NFL pension. Hall of Famer Willie Wood is in an assisted-living facility, and without the help of Mike Ditka and others, he couldn't afford the care. Kramer started the Gridiron Greats Assistance Program to help players in need and recruited Ditka to help raise money, an effort that includes an ongoing memorabilia auction at jerrykramer.com. The pension and disability issues facing the league are confusing and not easily solved. Upshaw said it would take $800 million annually to elevate the former players' pensions to the active players' level. But Ditka isn't asking for that type of contribution. In fact, he sent a letter to the 32 NFL team owners, asking for a $100,000 donation from each. He said he got one check for $10,000, and one for $5,000. Ditka sent each back in disgust.

posted by dyams at 11:31 AM on February 12

NFL player salaries are much higher than the norm for the time they are playing. Not in Conrad Dobler's day, they weren't. He never made more than $130,000 in a season, and he was one of the league's stars. His pension doesn't cover his medical costs, and he physically and emotionally can't work, due to the constant punishment he received while doing his job. And yet he's wrong to ask for this stuff? And what about the non-stars who made far less than even that much, who have suffered multiple concussions and are now suffering from depression and dementia, who are pursuing these claims with no publicity, no counsel and with brains inside their own heads that won't cooperate? Far as I'm concerned, this shit is unconscionable.

posted by chicobangs at 11:36 AM on February 12

jerrykramer.com is a site worth looking at, too.

posted by dyams at 11:38 AM on February 12

So, it sounds like the NFL benefits cover some medical, but not all. They don't cover hip replacements or post-concussive injuries. I think a nice first step would be to cover all medical bills for former players. Then, as a next step, get impartial doctors to decide on NFL disabilities instead of NFL doctors who apparently never think anyone needs assistance. Upshaw is a jerk. I don't think this is the responsibility of current players to deal with, but the former players need an effective lobby on their side and the NFLPA should step up and take on this issue.

posted by bperk at 11:44 AM on February 12

The NFL treats their former players only slightly better than the Roman treated their gladiators. How many kids of disabled former players could they have sponsored to college on the money they paid Prince for that hideous halftime show? Phil is a true role model. I tell my kids to watch his movements. Class personified!

posted by mikemora at 11:46 AM on February 12

jerrykramer.com is a site worth looking at, too. Thansk for that, dyams. I almost bought some dvds of the America's Game series, but I will give that money to the Gridiron Greats Fund instead.

posted by bperk at 11:52 AM on February 12

Thank God for people like Phil. The NFL needs to have its own nonprofit that supports its past players. For Christ's sake it's because of them that they have the success they have today. What a sh***y way to repay those great players. I hated golf until today... Shame on the NFL. Mostly, shame on Jerry Jones.

posted by OneLbRibEye at 12:16 PM on February 12

Then, as a next step, get impartial doctors to decide on NFL disabilities instead of NFL doctors who apparently never think anyone needs assistance. the impartial doctors doesn't seem to be the issue, at least in Dobbler's case. In the HBO special they discussed that the NFL doctors agreed that Dobler was 90% incapacitated, for example. Same was true of this other player (forget his name)..both NFL and player's doctors agreed they were SEVERELY incapacitated. The issue is with the deciding group on the NFL side, who see "90% incapacitated" but alongside that "can do sedetary work". Basically if the evaluation indicated that the player could sit at a desk for 8 hours a day then the disability claim will be rejected, regardless of what type of pain that guy may be in for that 8 hours.

posted by bdaddy at 01:43 PM on February 12

Whenever I hear about some old NFL player being broke and not getting help from the NFL. I really want to say, " Fuck the NFL!" But then the Finance major in me takes over and asks, "Where did all of your money go?" NFL players may not have made millions of dollars a year back in the day, however they have always been paid extremely high wages relative to the year that they played in. If these players would have started a retirement fund of their own, they would not be worried about getting a hand-out from the NFL. I can't think of any other type of career in which you can burn all of your cash and then blame your hard luck on your employer. I don't mean to side with the "Establishment" on this one, however it just doesn't make any sense to blame them for things that are out of their control. As long as they are offering medical coverage for life, they are doing all that can be expected of them.

posted by yay-yo at 02:08 PM on February 12

Did you actually read the article, yay-yo? Of course you didn't, you're a finance major. Dobler, by any person's account had a successful career as a businessman post his NFL career. The problem is that he was beset by a tragic injury to his wife (could happen to any of us), and the cumulative effect of the injuries he had received on the job in his former career. In almost any other industry he could file for disability claims to defray the frighteningly high cost of his own medical care. What you say might have applied to the likes of Mike Webster, or Hollywood Henderson but is completely irrelevant to this story.

posted by psmealey at 02:27 PM on February 12

As long as they are offering medical coverage for life, they are doing all that can be expected of them. I don't think this is so. When a company offers benefits, they are benefits in lieu of salary. So, if the company didn't give you those benefits, they would have to give you that comparable amount in salary. The NFL gave these players pensions and disability as part of their benefits. Presumably, the players understood that if they were unable to work because of football injuries, they would qualify for these benefits. Instead, when they are unable to work, they find out that the NFL makes it damn near impossible to get those benefits. I can't even imagine what disability insurance would cost for an ex-NFL player, but I am sure that most of these ex-players did not make enough to afford it.

posted by bperk at 03:08 PM on February 12

The problem is that he was beset by a tragic injury to his wife (could happen to any of us) And that is somehow the NFL's fault? Did he not have insurance coverage for his wife? If not, why not? Is that the NFL's fault also? Managing your money well means a lot more than simply not wasting it on hookers and crack rocks. You have to SAVE for RAINY DAYS. You have to have insurance for you and your family. I just don't think we should feel so bad for people who have made insane amounts of money and forgot to take care of it.

posted by yay-yo at 06:01 PM on February 12

You have to have insurance for you and your family. If you really believe insurance is enough to keep you out of the poorhouse in the face of a catastrophic illness, you're either not a finance major or you're a complete moron.

posted by wfrazerjr at 06:29 PM on February 12

If you really believe insurance is enough to keep you out of the poorhouse in the face of a catastrophic illness, you're either not a finance major or you're a complete moron. Or maybe I have faced a catastrophic illness of my own? And if it wasn't for my INSURANCE, I too would be broke and complaining.

posted by yay-yo at 06:46 PM on February 12

You are hurting eyes.

posted by yerfatma at 07:05 PM on February 12

Yay-yo, if you had a catastrophic illness/injury would your insurance have paid $18,000/mo? I think not. And would you have had the personal funds to cover that? Insurance? Self coverage is prohibitively expensive, unless you have plenty of descretionary income. Maybe the NFL insurance (if there was some) only covered Mr. Dobbler. My Ex's Veteran's insurance only covered him, not the spouse or childern, thank God my employer at the time offered excellent coverage. None of us know Mr. Dobbler's finances, except that he is in dire straits. The story does not give his life long financial picture as it is none of our business. If you really believe insurance is enough to keep you out of the poorhouse in the face of a catastrophic illness, you're either not a finance major or you're a complete moron. I would vote that you are a compassionless moron.

posted by steelergirl at 07:42 PM on February 12

yerfatma gets an early SpoFite of the Year nomination for closing that damned tag.

posted by lilnemo at 07:44 PM on February 12

Football players and professional athletes, in general, have for many years made more than the average per capita income for the time that they were playing. However, the increase in pension payments and costy of living increases from SS have not kept up with the rise in health care costs, from normal visits, to medication (look at the price of a simple aspirin) to the bills for a single emergency or continuous care illness. The real difference is, the players today make more money than they could ever spend, if you are a superstar. And you would think they would have the foresight to save for their retirement. But they have no control over the rising cost of health care, nor do they know what ailments might beset them. One thing is for sure, they do know that their careers are short, compared to those of a life long office worker, for example, their salaries are high and there risk for having medical issues and complications are also higher. So it would be wise of them to "save". But "back in the day" as some have put it, those realizations were there; but the cost of taking care of them or affording them at that time were were not as astronomical. When Mr. Dobler was "hauling in" $130,000.00 per annum, there was no medical treatment costing $18,000.00 a month. That $216,000.00 per annum kind of dwarfs the $130,000.00 (before taxes and payouts to his agent) that Mr. Dobler made in a single year. The NFLPA owes it to these former players to get better care and fairer consideration for their disabilities. The millionaire NFL players of today owe it to them as well for two reasons. These guys paved the way for them to make the millions they are making and secondly, "there but for the grace of God . . . " But we have all at some time been on the sh** end of the stick from insurance or doctors who look solely at the bottom line. Our insurance companies set our treatments, not our doctors, unless you can afford to pay for it yourself. Well the NFLPA is merely the "insurance company" that decides these players treatment.

posted by Tokens0605 at 08:08 PM on February 12

The final round of a PGA tournament is on television. Tiger Woods is in the lead. Phil Mickleson is in the top 10. Cue the inevitable “Phil Mickleson is a nice guy”comment by Jim Nantz or whomever. Cue Newbie’s sneer and “that’s what you say about losers,” thoughtless remark. Does this mean i have to quit "hating" Phil?? Phil really is a humble and respectful person. posted by gdaddydog at 8:58 AM CST on February 12 Indeed. Now I see there is something (actually several things) to back up the words. Thank you, dyams for posting this.

posted by Newbie Walker at 05:16 PM on February 14

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