NFC East: retired-player benefits
April, 5, 2011
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
Icon SMI, US PresswireHall of Famer Sam Huff took exception to comments Drew Brees made regarding former players.Even in a lockout, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is still taking hits.
This time it’s from Hall of Fame linebacker Sam Huff, who previously took some shots at Brees back in 2009. That came after Brees, a member of the NFL Players Association's executive committee said some of the demands from former players weren’t warranted.
“There’s some guys out there that have made bad business decisions,” Brees said then. “They took their pensions early because they never went out and got a job. They’ve had a couple divorces and they’re making payments to this place and that place. And that’s why they don’t have money. And they’re coming to us to basically say ‘Please make up for my bad judgment.’
“In that case, that’s not our fault as players.”
Huff ripped Brees at the time and he did it again Monday. In a letter Huff sent to the Washington Post, he didn’t hold back his venom for Brees.
“I was always taught that if a person could not say something good about someone, anyone subject to attention, they should keep their mouth shut,’’ Huff wrote. “I have a struggle living up to that standard; especially when it comes to Drew Brees, I let it all hang out. He seems to belong to that group of younger generation who left their NFL history books at home.
Huff’s letter then points out that he worked in the hotel industry for 27 years after his retirement from football. Huff then veers way off the point of the whole matter and lists in detail his impressive credentials as a player. Then, he really ripped into Brees personally.
“I think I know enough about the game to say something is wrong when I think it is wrong,’’ Huff said. “I am not one of those retired players who, as Drew Brees insinuates, has begged for money, and I do not need to. However, I know about the players of the 50’s and 60’s, and they gave everything imaginable to make the game what it is today. Some of those players need help from the NFLPA. They deserve it, and Drew Brees needs better credentials before he makes such derogatory statements about those players.’’
Listen, I totally respect what Huff did as a player. But I also think Brees has built some pretty strong credentials and will continue to do so. When all is said and done, Brees will be in the Hall of Fame.
The real point here is Brees’ original comments about some retired players being in dire straits because they made mistakes and had to take their pensions early. Huff said he’s not one of those guys and that’s great for him and I think he’s in the majority.
But Brees’ original statement had some validity. There are some former players out there who have been very vocal about getting their pensions increased. Some of them were great players and made very good money (at least relatively speaking at the time they were playing) and they’ve run into financial trouble long after their playing careers.
I know one guy who took his pension in his early 40s because he was broke after a series of bad business decisions. He spends his time now selling rubber bands, signing autographs at card shows and making lots of noise about how former players should get more money.
I do believe the league and the union have some responsibility to former players, particularly those with health issues stemming from their playing days. Many others who were wise with their money all along should be able to get along just fine with a pension that's far better than most workers who retired from real-world jobs. But I also think Brees had a valid point when he said it’s not the responsibility of current players to make up for bad judgment by some former players.
Brees wasn't talking about Huff. Maybe Huff shouldn't be talking about Brees.