Even if you believe that the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL didn't go far enough in ensuring that retired players received their fair share of the financial windfall that America's new national pastime creates each year, it's hard to feel too sympathetic towards the recent statements made by Dan Pastortini about the revenue allocated to the game's older players under the terms of the new CBA.
Pastorini, a former quarterback for the Houston Oilers, Rams, Raiders and Eagles from 1971-1982, doesn't feel like the $620 million allocated to the 'Legacy Fund' (for players who retired prior to the historic 1993 CBA) is nearly enough. Speaking to CBSSports.com, Pastorini sounded nothing short of bitter when he said:
"I'm going to get an extra $1,000 a month. Big f------ deal," the 62-year-old Pastorini told CBSSports.com recently. "I think it's a travesty the way they treat the older players. I'm part of that group. They're throwing us a bone with the $620 million. By the time they get to a new CBA after 10 years, they won't have to worry about us pre-93er's. It's sad, but it's their M.O. They want to wait for us to die.
"What they're talking about now is to give us a bone and to shut us up. It's just wrong. It's damn wrong. And the players association is just as greedy as the owners are, if not more so. The players don't go to bat for us, which makes us ashamed."
Pastorini had particularly unkind things to say about Drew Brees, one of the players on the executive committee of the NFLPA who had gone on the record to say that he was committed to ensuring that retired players were better taken care of and that he had little sympathy for those former players who put themselves in precarious situations financially due to poor decisions in their business and personal lives.
When asked about Brees, all Pastorini had to say was 'F--- Drew Brees.'
It might have seemed Brees was talking directly to Pastorini, who's had to declare bankruptcy twice and has been divorced after ending his one-time Pro Bowl career. Clearly, Pastorini feels that Brees -- who is making $7.4 million this year and could be the next quarterback to win a $90 million contract -- made it personal.
"My first year's salary was $25,000, then $30,000, then $35,000," Pastorini said. "These guys make my first contract in a game. Look at (former NFLPA executive director) Gene Upshaw and what he left his wife when he died? How did he leave her $15 million? They've been screwing us from day one. My pension was $1,100 a month, then $1,200, then $1,400, and now it'll be $1,750. No medical, no disability -- $1700 doesn't even pay for my rent."
That's an awful lot of money to pay for rent first of all. Mortgage, perhaps, but rent at that age? $1700 can get you a mighty fine apartment in Houston, I know that much.
Anyway, it's hard not to feel terrible for the countless number of former players who have, until recently, been almost entirely forgotten and ignored by the NFL and its players union. Small pensions, inadequate healthcare, etc, etc. But it's equally hard to side with somebody who sounds so angry and out of touch by what a legitimately important first step this was for the league in terms of setting aside substantial pools of money for those who came before them. It's not as if the league really owes it to former players. For better or worse, life is often about timing. Those young men who play the game today happen to be playing at a time when interest is at an all time high in our country. For those who came before them, the game had not yet captivated the collective conscious of our country. Is that today's players fault? I don't think it is.
This may be one of the more course outbursts we'll hear from a former player that's unsatisfied by the terms of the new CBA, but it also won't be the last time we hear from disgruntled former players upset by how little money they're still pocketing compared to the handsomely paid players of today's NFL.