Friday, August 3, 2007
Mike Ditka skipping Hall of Fame induction ceremonies until NFL disability payments improve
CHICAGO -- Mike Ditka won't be in Canton, Ohio, for
Saturday's Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony and won't
attend another until the NFL and the players' union improve their
treatment of disabled players.
"The system is flawed and when they fix the system I'll go
back," the former Chicago Bears coach and player told The
Associated Press on Friday.
Ditka said his beef isn't with the pension system, but with the
scarcity of disability payments. League officials have said 317
players collect disability totaling about $20 million a year.
Ditka said he's proud to be a Hall of Famer and congratulates
the new inductees, but prior commitments are keeping him away from
the Hall of Fame event.
"I'm in the restaurant business. I'm busy," he said. "They
don't need me anyway."
In June, a group of former players testified in Congress about
their bouts with multiple surgeries, dementia and homelessness, all
while trying to fight through the red tape of the National Football
League and the NFL Players Association's disability system.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players' union head Gene
Upshaw met with nearly a dozen former players last month to discuss
a new joint effort to look into disability pay and health care for