A group of NFL Hall of Famers said they would boycott the annual induction ceremony until they receive health insurance and an annual salary, including a share of the league’s revenue, ESPN reported.
In a letter, first posted on Twitter by ESPN reported Arash Markazi, and sent on Tuesday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame C. David Baker, the 21 former NFL players demanded more support from the organization, citing “severe health and financial problems.”
“We, the undersigned Pro Football Hall of Famers, were integral to the creation of the modern NFL, which in 2017 generated $14 billion in revenue,” the letter reads. “But when the league enshrined us as the greatest ever to play America’s most popular sport, they gave us a gold jacket, a bust and a ring—and that was it.”
The former players outlined in their letter that it would cost less than $4 million to insure every Hall of Famer. They also pointed out that Major League Baseball players are entitled to health insurance for the rest of their lives, even if they are only on the roster for one day.
“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,” the signees wrote, before questioning Goodell’s $40 million annual salary and the construction of a $1 billion Hall of Fame Village.
“Our long careers left us especially vulnerable to the dangers of this violent sport, especially those intentionally hidden from us,” the letter continues, calling out the NFL for covering up evidence of long-term brain damage due to repeated concussions from the sport. Research released in 2015 found that 96% of the former NFL players examined for the study suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The letter is signed by Hall of Fame board chairman Eric Dickerson, as well as board members Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Derrick Brooks, Jim Brown, Earl Campbell, Richard Dent, Carl Eller, 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; and Reggie White’s widow, Sarah White.
Dickerson told ESPN that while the current proposal explicitly supports Hall of Famers, their goal is to get health insurance for all former NFL players.