The National Football League was sued by two former players who say the league pulled a “switcheroo” this year when it quietly cut monthly benefits for disabled retirees by as much as $3,000 a month.
The change was part of negotiations in March over the new contract between NFL owners and players. In a last-minute revision, the disability payments earmarked for ex-players were offset by what they received in Social Security benefits, according to the lawsuit.
Starting next year, that will shrink monthly checks by $2,000 to $3,000 for an estimated 400 to 900 ex-players, according to the complaint filed Friday in federal court in Washington.
Under the old contract, ex-players earn $4,000 a month from the player’s retirement plan and $7,250 a month from the disability plan, for a total of $11,250 a month, according to the suit.
The suit was filed by running back Aveion Cason, who started his career with the Detroit Lions in 2001 and later played for the St. Louis Rams, and ex-quarterback Don Majkowski, who played for the Green Bay Packers in 1987 before moving to the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions. Both men are totally and permanently disabled, according to the suit.
The two accuse the NFL Players Association of not giving players enough time to evaluate the new contract before it was time to vote during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They also say the contract was illegally revised — resulting in the “switcheroo” — after it was approved by players.
They are asking the court to order the player’s association and owners to drop the offset and restore the previous disability benefits.
The NFL didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours to a request for comment.
Photo: Aveion Cason #36 of the Detroit Lions runs by Bret Lockett #39 of the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter of their NFL game in Cleveland Browns Stadium on August 22, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
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