Washington Redskins will stop participating in NFL pension plan for non-football employees

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 24, 2010

Washington Redskins non-football personnel were informed Friday that the team plans to soon discontinue its participation in the NFL pension program, several team employees said.

In a morning meeting at Redskins Park, employees were told their pension contributions would end in July, according to people who attended the meeting and requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss team business. Players and coaches are not affected by the move, but athletic trainers were present at the meeting. Through team spokesman Zack Bolno, the Redskins declined to comment.

Beginning July 1, pension benefits will be frozen, high-ranking team officials informed employees. Employees vested in the program will maintain accrued benefits, but their accounts will not continue to grow. The Redskins will continue their 401 (k) program, which includes a company-matching component.

The Redskins joined the long list of NFL teams that have ceased participating in the league's pension program. Washington is the 15th team in the 32-team league to have opted out of the plan, according to the sources. The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, widely considered among the league's premier franchises, are among the teams that previously cut benefits.

This is the second offseason in a row in which the organization expected cutbacks. Early in 2009, the Redskins laid off at least 20 employees at Redskins Park and an undetermined number at FedEx Field, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.

Since the economic downturn, scores of businesses in a variety of industries have scaled back on their pension programs and other benefits. Football is still big business and the NFL raked in a reported $8 billion last season.

In March 2009, team owners voted to make it voluntary for clubs to offer their employees the league's pension, 401 (k) and supplemental retirement plans. Initially, nine teams opted out of the league's generous offering last spring.

The cuts made headlines last spring when the NFL Coaches Association complained about owners scaling back the benefits offered to the leagues coaches. Shortly after the Colts decided to pull their plan last spring, longtime assistants Howard Mudd and Tom Moore both opted for retirement, reportedly because they were unhappy their benefits were changing.

Staff writer Rick Maese contributed to this report.

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