A group of Pro Football Hall of Famers sent a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday demanding health insurance coverage and an annual salary that includes a share of league revenue. They threatened to boycott the induction ceremonies.
The letter contains the signatures of 22 former players, including such icons as Jim Brown, Jerry Rice and Joe Namath.
Former quarterback Kurt Warner was also listed as a signatory. He tweeted a statement Tuesday saying his name was "mistakenly attached" to the letter.
"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," wrote Eric Dickerson, Hall of Fame board chairman. "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 letter points out that while NFL players only receive health insurance for five years after retirement, Major League Baseball players who appear on a major league roster for a single day are entitled to coverage for the rest of their lives, and a lifelong pension after 43 days.
"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," wrote Dickerson, likely referring to the CTE scandal that has hung over the NFL for the last few years.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, is a degenerative disease found in the brains of people who have suffered head injuries. More than a hundred former NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE.
The letter also took shots at Goodell's $40 million annual salary, and a massive $1 billion construction project at the Hall of Fame.
The players only demanded these changes for the 318 Hall of Fame inductees, a tiny portion of all retired players.
NFL players have received pensions since 1959. A 401(k) plan was created in 1993, and an annuity program was established in 1998.