Super Bowl Notebook

Union Defends Ex-Players' Pensions

By Mark Maske and Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 2, 2007

MIAMI, Feb. 1 -- NFL Players Association officials defended the league's pension plan Thursday after a group of former players attacked it as insufficient.

"What we're hearing is: 'It's not enough. We should give more. It should be the same for the active players and the retired players,' " union chief Gene Upshaw said. "That's never going to happen. . . . We do what we can do. We will continue to do what we must do, and we have not turned our back on anyone."

Upshaw's comments came after a group of retired players headed by former Green Bay Packers guard Jerry Kramer announced earlier that it was conducting an online auction to raise money for needy former NFL players.

"These guys are proud," said former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who is involved in the project. "They don't want to beg, and the money is there. They gave us a lot of enjoyment over the years. I think it's worth helping them, I really do."

Former Buffalo Bills guard Joe DeLamielleure said that the pensions for former NFL players are insufficient, and added: "I think Gene Upshaw and [former NFL commissioner Paul] Tagliabue are responsible for this. They've been in power for 20 years and have done nothing."

Upshaw said the league's pension plan pays out $60 million annually. "What you don't hear about is the guys we help," Upshaw said. "I know what we do and I'm proud of what we do."

Said Washington Redskins safety Troy Vincent, the president of the union, "The reality of the economics is, we can't make everyone happy."

Arresting Concerns

Upshaw said at his annual Super Bowl news conference that he's highly concerned about the number of player arrests and intends to work with Commissioner Roger Goodell to rectify the problem. Upshaw said he thinks the penalties for off-field misdeeds are sufficiently severe. The next step, Upshaw said, will be to meet with players.

"We'll bring players together, sit with a group of guys and have them tell us what they think and what they go through," Upshaw said.. . .

Vincent said that Upshaw's contract has been extended through the 2010 season.

Rooney Rule for College?

Cyrus Mehri, the Washington lawyer who serves as counsel to the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said he'd been contacted by NCAA President Myles Brand to discuss the possibility of a minority interviewing rule, such as the one the NFL has for its coaches, being implemented in college football.

The "Rooney Rule" requires teams with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate, and the alliance, formed to promote diversity at all levels of the NFL, would like to see a similar measure enacted for college football programs. Mehri said a meeting with Brand had not been scheduled yet.

No One's Told Rivera

If Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera is about to be named head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, that's news to him. Rivera, a candidate for several head coaching jobs over the last two seasons, said he had not spoken to Dallas about its coaching vacancy.

News reports said Rivera had emerged as a candidate for the Cowboys' head job or the defensive coordinator position should Norv Turner get the job.

Rivera already has been considered for several recent coaching vacancies, including with Pittsburgh and Miami.

"I've talked to nobody," he said. "Everybody asks me, 'What have you heard?' I've heard nothing."

Dallas owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday he wouldn't name a coach to replace Bill Parcells until after the Super Bowl.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company