The newly formed players-only Hall of Fame Board, made up of Pro Football Hall of Fame players, are threatening a boycott of induction ceremonies unless Hall of Fame members receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of NFL revenues.
ESPN obtained a copy of the memo sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker. ESPN shared the text to Twitter on Tuesday morning.
Former Rams running back Eric Dickerson is the chairman of the board created to represent the pursuit of health care and a piece of the NFL’s massive revenue pie.
The Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, has undergone an enormous construction project in recent years — Hall of Fame Village, aided by a giant sponsorship deal with Johnson Controls — that includes a retirement center for players, who would receive healthcare on the premises. The project also included a new stadium and will bring multiple football fields for youth participation initiatives.
The letter claims the Hall of Fame Board also includes Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Ellard, Marshall Faulk, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, Ronnie Lott, Curtis Martin, Joe Namath, John Randle, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White’s widow, Sarah White.
However, it also listed retired quarterback Kurt Warner (St. Louis Rams, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals) and San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders great Jerry Rice, who denied he was in any way associated with the effort. Rice said he supports the message of lifetime health benefits.
“I plan to support the Pro Football Hall of Fame and look forward to attending the 100th anniversary in 2020,” Rice said via Twitter.
In the letter published by ESPN, players reference Major League Baseball’s lifetime health coverage afforded any player who serves a single day on a big-league roster, and point to the established $620 million “Legacy Fund” as one of the NFL’s “cynical public relations ploys that fail to help those who desperately need it.”
—Field Level Media