Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Eric Dickerson on Wednesday clarified the intention of a letter to NFL officials in which several football legends threatened to boycott future induction ceremonies if they did not receive permanent health care and a share of league revenue.
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Dickerson was one of 22 Hall of Fame inductees named in the letter, which demanded action from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame President C. David Baker. However, two of the players named in the letter – Kurt Warner and Jerry Rice – later said that while they supported benefits for retired players, they never agreed to boycott Hall of Fame events.
In a statement posted to his Twitter account, Dickerson, a Los Angeles Rams legend who heads up a newly formed Hall of Fame Board, took responsibility for the “miscommunication” regarding Warner and Rice’s involvement. But Dickerson doubled down on the board’s demands, arguing that all former NFL players, regardless of stature, should receive health-care benefits.
“While the NFL and their beat writers continue to poke away at little things, the main issue remains that all NFL players (Hall of Fame and retired) deserve health insurance and a reasonable pension,” Dickerson wrote. “We will continue to fight for this cause, that we really believe in, to bring educational awareness to all NFL players and fans.”
Dickerson’s statement included an amended list of 13 Hall of Fame board members who support the movement: Marcus Allen, Mel Blount, Jim Brown, Richard Dent, Dickerson, Carl Eller, Mike Haynes, Rickey Jackson, John Randle, Bruce Smith, Jackie Smith, Lawrence Taylor and Sarah White, the widow of Reggie White. Warner and Rice are among the players included in the initial letter who were removed from the list.
While the NFL has an existing pension program for ex-players, Dickerson and his supporters say the package is not substantial enough. They have asked that the NFL, which generated an estimated $14 billion in its 2017 league year, set aside money for health insurance and an annual salary for all players.
“My mission is to have all players have [lifetime] health care,” Dickerson said in an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated. “The reason I said Hall of Famers first is because you’re going to recognize these names.”
The inductees say it would cost just 3 cents of every $100 the NFL earns to cover health-care costs, and about 40 cents per $100 to cover annual salaries.
The NFL has yet to comment on Dickerson’s demands.
The initial letter said Hall of Fame inductees were prepared to boycott future induction ceremonies, including the 100th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, if their demands aren’t met.