The NFL’s annual Canton kickoff is coming, with the league holding several days of events in and around a museum that will add eight more bronze busts — and that will rely on current members of the club to break out their yellow jackets and return to the cradle of pro football. But Hall of Famer Eric Dickeson apparently still has other plans.
Last September, Dickerson sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Hall of Fame president David Baker demanding lifetime health insurance, an annual salary for Hall of Famers, and a share of league revenue.
“Until our demands are met,” the letter explained, “the Hall of Famers will not attend the annual induction ceremony in Canton.”
The effort quickly crumbled, fueled by dynamic from the fact that some Hall of Famers didn’t know their names were placed on the letter to Dickerson’s demand that the Hall of Famers should get $300,000 per year to backing away from that claim to taking issue with 31-year-old news reports that Dickerson had crossed the picket line in 1987.
Now, the boycott may actually be on. Appearing Friday on WFNZ in Charlotte, Dickerson said that some big-name Hall of Famers may skip this year’s induction festivities due to the fact that the NFL treats its former players “like an outcast.”
“A lot of guys have talked about it, but you know we [may] try to start doing something about it,” Dickerson said. “One of the things we’re doing I mean is we’re possibly a lot of us not going to the Hall of Fame this year. Because I think it starts was guys like myself, guys with names. You know, the Joe Montanas, the Marcus Allens, the Richard Dents, the Lawrence Taylors. If you’ve got a guy who played [and] his name is John Thompson, you know, who is he? But you’ve got the guys with the names, and you have to have awareness. And I think that’s what it comes down to. No one is aware of how badly the players are treated and done. And I think when people think football, they think automatically, ‘He’s a rich guy. He’s rich.’ And guys aren’t rich. Some of the guys are making real money, but in our era, the base salary was $40,000.”
The NFL has shown no apparent inclination to give former players anything beyond the pensions and other benefits they negotiated for themselves while playing. As explained last year when the topic first emerged, every dollar that the league gives to the former players is one less dollar available to the current players. And as the current players try to get more from the league in current CBA discussions, it won’t get any easier for former players to get paid now for services rendered years, and in some cases decades, ago.
That said, Hall of Famers showing up for a weekend of parades and rubber-chicken entrees has value to the NFL, and maybe the Hall of Famers should get something of value for adding to the overall experience. While a fair amount would surely be far less than the money Dickerson wants, it’s better than nothing.