Tony Dungy wrote on his official twitter account this morning that he was not aware that the new CBA made changes to the definition of the term “disability” which will result in many players not qualifying as permanently disabled and not receiving disability benefits. Dungy wrote, “I wasn’t aware of this part of the agreement. We absolutely need to fight for Keith and our retired players’ right to be included in the definition of those with a disability.”
Dungy was responding to a message from Jill O’Neil, wife of disabled NFL veteran Keith O’Neil. Jill pointed out that in 2007, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated, “You have to have some standards. You have to have some kind of process to make sure you’re being responsible . . . If somebody is disabled enough to qualify for Social Security Disability they should be disabled under our guidelines. We agreed to that.”
In her message, Jill posted a photograph of Goodell next to his 2007 statement with a side-by-side comparison with Article 60 Section 6 of the CBA which allegedly passed on March 15, 2020 which states, “a Social Security determination of disability does not establish a player’s eligibility for disability benefits under this Disability plan.”
The impact of changing the definition of disability in the CBA from what Commissioner Goodell promised and players fought for is that far less players will qualify for disability.
The impact of drastically reducing disability benefits to players by changing the definition of “disability” is only further compounded by the fact that an additional game was added to the season in the new CBA increasing the risk for injury and CTE damages.
This comes a day after the NFLPA was caught changing language in the CBA after the CBA vote completed to further reduce disability benefits to players who applied for disability before January 1, 2015. This morning, Eric Reid and Ben Meiselas interviewed NFL Hall of Famer Charles Haley about the NFLPA abandoning him in his time of need as a disabled player. NFL legend and popular TV Host Shannon Sharpe recently suggested that NFLPA Executive Director to DeMaurice Smith should resign or be terminated.