The Washington Post

NFL and widows of former players reach deal on pension money

After 11 months of discussions, a group of nearly 330 widows of former NFL players will finally start receiving increased pension money they felt was owed to them after the owners and players struck a new collective bargaining agreement last August.

In the CBA, the two sides agreed to create a $630 million pool of money called a “legacy fund” to increase the pensions of 4,700 players who left the game before 1993. But left out of the agreement were the widows whose husbands were vested prior to ’93 but died before last August, a group that included the wives of Pro Football Hall of Famers Johnny Unitas and John Mackey.

“It’s shameful,” Sylvia Mackey said in June. “It’s dragging us widows through the mud.”

For months, the players and owners couldn’t agree how to divvy up the needed $14 million to cover the widows. The NFL Players Association announced Monday afternoon the NFL will pick up 51 percent of the tab while the union pays for the remainder. The money will be retroactive to last August for those who qualify.

The NFL had previously agreed to fund its portion using money generated by player fines.

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.


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