Eric Dickerson seeks lifetime $300,000 annual salary for all NFL Hall of Famers

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Not every Hall of Famer agreed with Eric Dickerson’s letter on Tuesday. (AP)
Not every Hall of Famer agreed with Eric Dickerson’s letter on Tuesday. (AP)

A group of pro football Hall of Famers tried to create a splash in the NFL’s labor dynamics on Tuesday by releasing a letter demanding lifetime health insurance and an annual salary for all Hall of Famers.

In an interview with TMZ Sports on Wednesday, Hall of Fame Board president Eric Dickerson provided further details on those demands, suggesting “every Hall of Famer would get about $300,000 a year.”

The threat if the NFL didn’t meet their demands? A Hall of Fame ceremony that would look a whole lot emptier next year. If the league didn’t start supporting its greatest players after their time in the league, those players threatened to boycott the Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremony. Adding to the players’ leverage was that the NFL would soon celebrate its 100th anniversary, which would ring hollow if the league’s most recognizable faces sat out any ceremony.

It was an interesting move from a group of players that is likely fed up with the NFL’s treatment of its most important labor force, but it wasn’t a move approved by every player who supposedly signed the letter.

Jerry Rice and Kurt Warner back out of NFL Hall of Famers’ letter

The letter was signed by a who’s who of NFL greats. Dickerson was at the top, followed by: Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor, Kurt Warner and Sarah White, the widow of Reggie White.

Not every name on that list apparently had the chance to read the letter before it was released, as Warner and Rice soon released statements distancing themselves from the letter.

A common refrain from both statements was a desire to receive lifetime health insurance for all retired NFL players, not just the Hall of Famers.

That’s an understandable wish. The letter pointed out that retired MLB players, beneficiaries of arguably the strongest player union in American sports, receive lifetime health insurance after just one day on a big league roster and receive lifetime pensions after 43 days. By comparison, NFL players receive health insurance for only five years after their retirement, which isn’t too helpful for a sport infamous for its long-term damage.

Despite the shortcomings of requesting health insurance for just the NFL’s Hall of Famers, Dickerson later claimed it was all part of the plan.

Eric Dickerson clarifies NFL Hall of Famers’ goals

Dickerson released another statement Tuesday evening taking responsibility for a miscommunication with Rice and Warner and blasting the NFL for “pitting players against each other.”

Warner and Rice were obviously left out of the letter’s signatories. Also missing from the letter were Brooks, Campbell, Faulk, Lott, Martin, Namath and Sanders.

Dickerson later clarified that he and his colleagues want health insurance and a significant pension for all retired NFL players. In an interview with ESPN, he described the act of putting Hall of Famers first as simply a first step in a larger plan.

“Those guys played just as hard as I did to get to the Hall of Fame. I want them to get health care, but we have to start here first. We have to get to 1 before we can get to 10. You have to start with the Hall of Famers because we’re trying to get some power first. We don’t have a voice at the table and we’re trying to get there with the attention of the Hall of Famers first. When you get Hall of Famers talking, hopefully you get the attention of the masses.”

In his interview with TMZ Sports on Wednesday, Dickerson reiterated that his goal is to ultimately improve benefits for all players, including lifetime healthcare coverage and a pension plan similar to the structure for Major League Baseball, which reportedly pays 10-year veterans $200,000 annually.

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