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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Former Brown Felix Wright: The NFL's Pension System is Broken

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 2:39 PM

On the heels of "Forgotten Forefathers," Gus Garcia-Roberts’ recent story about former football players struggling to get acces to the NFL’s pension and disability payouts, I spoke recently ol’ No. 22 for the Cleveland Browns – Felix Wright. I called Wright to talk about an event he’s doing on February 12th and 13th, when he’ll join Hanford Dixon, Frank Minnifield, and Al Gross at the Cleveland Improv (2000 Sycamore Street, 216.696.4677) to tell stories about their former playing days with the Browns. It’s a don’t-miss event for fans itching for some good news as we wait for the next Season of Dreams to begin. But I also wanted to get his take on the plight of him and his old colleagues. ... Wright’s day job these days is heading a consulting firm he founded to help current NFL and NBA players deal with their money. From account planning to financial management, he guides the uber-rich athletes of today’s world into the future when their playing days are over. It’s the sort of guidance unavailable to players from his day who have had to deal with injuries and poor financial planning all on their own. Asked about the NFL pension and disability issue, he had this to say: “Everyone complains about (Union President) Gene Upshaw, but obviously the current guys keep bringing him on for a reason. I really have no injuries or joint replacements, and I haven’t needed any of it. Hanford’s had hip replacements, and Frank’s going to. Dan Fike has so many issues, and he kept getting denied. How could you deny that? You can see his body. He finally got it. But The system is a joke. I didn’t work in a factory for ten years; you know what I did for a living. It’s disappointing when you hear of guys that don’t get approved. How are you turning down these guys? What’s the due process? Do you want him to cry before you help him out?” From the sounds of it, Gene Upshaw would like nothing better. Which is pretty damn sad. – Vince Grzegorek
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