Texas Governor Rick Perry visited a Fifth Ward church, in Houston, Texas several years ago. After that meeting, I was asked to write a response.
I wrote an article entitled: Freedom From Slavery (of all kinds). It was five years ago, and I realized that bondage can be defined so many different ways.
Some of the concepts can be applied to the experiences of retired NFL players.
Whenever the renumeration for a service rendered is not commensurate with the benefit to the employer, there are inequities.
Also, if there is a "risk" involved in the delivery of the service, then there ought to be a compensation factor for the NFL player who incurs the damage or risk.
If an NFL player expends his intellectual or physical property to help an industry earn mega-bucks, then that NFL player ought to benefit.
So many companies have risk managers or risk control experts. No doubt these experts need to begin to help the retired NFL players.
Actually, the active players need more guidance to insure that their life after NFL football is more lucrative than many of the retired players in 2009.
A conference is coming up next week, May 28-31, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The issues will be discussed. Strategies will be devised.
The NFLPA is fifty years old. It seems it has existed long enough to be a senior citizen of advocacy groups. Thus, the vision to discern what will guarantee better benefits for active and retired players ought to be in place.
I have seen some retired players who can barely walk. Others have from slight to severe addictions.
Many have not made a smooth transition to an ordinary lifestyle. In fact, if the young players do not respond to a rude awakening, they, too, can become a type of Bill Bojangles Robinson of this century.
One slip, either legally or morally, can cause an economic tumble.
I remember NFL players who met a "Potiphar's wife," and catapulted downward into emotional and legal difficulties because of the allegations which tainted their images and truncated their careers.
Fame and fortune can behave like a parabola, or football: rise up, peak at a maximum, and plummet downward until it hits "rock bottom."
Look at this quote:
"Despite earning more than $2 million during his lifetime, Robinson died penniless in New York City in 1949 at the age of 71 from heart failure. His funeral, which was arranged by longtime friend and television host Ed Sullivan, was held at the 369th Infantry Regiment Armory near Harlem and attended by 32,000 people. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. gave the eulogy which was broadcast over the radio."
The lesson to be learned: A football player's opportunity to have a career in the NFL can either be a mirror of true economic opportunity or a inversion, showing a shadow of a distorted reality, turning personal and financial situations upside down.
Can you see clearly? Is what you see an accurate mirror reflection of opportunity or is it an illusion?
In conclusion, a young NFL player must be honest with himself.
He must realize that he may be ill-prepared to deal with the issues that will arise during his retirement years.
The core of this lesson: Hunker down, right now, and prepare for your future!