Pro Football Hall of Famers threaten induction boycott, seek revenue share, health insuranceSeptember 18, 2018 4:06pm

Nearly two dozen of the NFL's greatest former players have put their names on a letter to commissioner Roger Goodell and top executives at the players' union and the Pro Football Hall of Fame that says they'll boycott the annual induction ceremony until Hall of Famers receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of league revenue.

Obtained by ESPN, the letter — signed by a who's who of Hall of Famers — points to the NFL's $14 billion in revenue in 2017 as well as Goodell's well-publicized $40 million annual salary and the construction of a $1 billion Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio.

The letter reads, in part:

"People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us. But on balance, it’s not. As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.

"We believe we deserve more. We write to demand two things: Health insurance and an annual salary for all Hall of Famers that includes a share of league revenue."

Eric Dickerson, chairman of the newly created Hall of Fame Board, sent the letter that was signed by the following players, who are identified as board members, as well as Sarah White, late Hall of Famer Reggie White's widow:

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
Jerry Rice
Deion Sanders
Bruce Smith
Jackie Smith
Lawrence Taylor
Kurt Warner

The letter — sent to Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame president C. David Baker — goes on to say that the group's financial demands "might seem like a lot" but then lays out the context, calling the amount "a drop in the bucket for the country's most profitable sports league": 

"The total cost for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance is less than $4 million — less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league generates in revenue. Paying Hall of Famers an annual salary works out to about 40 cents for every $100 in annual revenue, a figure that will increase dramatically in the near future with legalized gambling."

The Hall of Famers say they are intent on not taking away from the recent announcement of Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees but also point out that next year's induction ceremony will be part of the NFL's celebration of its 100th anniversary in 2020, a particularly high-profile time for some of the game's greatest to boycott the enshrinement weekend.

The letter closes:

"An NFL marketing slogan states that 'Football is Family.' We agree, which is why we’re demanding to be treated like family members who are integral to the league’s present and future. As the legends of the game’s past, we deserve nothing less."

To ready the letter in its entirety, click here.

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