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League, union reach deal on player benefit increases

7/27/2006 - NFL

WASHINGTON -- Player benefits and pension payments will be
going up for current and former NFL players under an agreement
reached Thursday between the league and the union.

The improvements are part of the recently extended collective
bargaining agreement and will cost approximately $120 million per
year. That will raise the annual cost of player benefits to $700
million a year.

It's the fourth time since 1993 that benefit improvements have
been made for current and retired players.

"These improvements are consistent with our commitment in every
negotiation to address post-career issues and improve the benefits
of retired players," NFL executive vice president Harold Henderson
said. "No other industry reaches back like this to take care of
former employees."

Retired players now receive nearly $60 million a year from the
retirement plan. Three other funds provide more than $1 million a
year in financial assistance to retired NFL players in need.

"The current players have great respect for the heritage of the
NFL and the former players that have contributed to the leagues
success," said NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw. "As they
have done on previous occasions, the current players strongly
supported the idea of using a portion of their negotiated benefits
money to fund improvements for the retired players."

Pensions of retired players will increase 25 percent for amounts
earned before 1982 and by 10 percent for amounts earned in 1982 and
later. The minimum increase for retired players will be $50 per
month.

Benefits will be tripled for the survivors of a player who dies
before his retirement benefits begin.

Beginning next year, players retired under the pension plan will
have some coverage for dementia, including Alzheimer's disease,
regardless of their age when care becomes necessary.

There also are provisions for paying tuition expenses for
retired players; a 401K savings plan; annuity programs; insurance;
severance pay; and disability benefits.