Goodell says NFL will speed disability payments to retired players Print
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Friday, 01 February 2008 14:25
NFL Headline News

 PHOENIX (AP) -NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pledged Friday to speed the process for retired players seeking disability payments.
``In fact, we have made some changes that I think will take some of the red tape out and make the process, hopefully, simpler to get to the results that we are looking for, which is to have an effective, responsive disability program,'' Goodell said during his annual Super Bowl news conference.
The plight of retired players grabbed the spotlight at the Super Bowl this week when more than 30 former NFL stars appeared at a news conference sponsored by Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, which raises money for former players in dire need.
Among the players' complaints is the league has been slow to compensate disabled retirees, and that the application process is too complicated.
``This is not unusual just to our industry,'' Goodell said. ``Disability programs are complicated. You see these come up with veterans, lengthy delays. We don't have that experience.
``I think any delay, though, is unfortunate. The players that helped build this game deserve to have a system that's responsive, professionally done, independently done, and that's what we're working on.''
Goodell said he spent ``four or five hours'' talking to NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw about possible changes in the disability program.
``I'm confident that we're going to make some changes that are going to be beneficial to our former players,'' said Goodell, who did not elaborate on any changes.
ROOKIE DAY IN CANTON: Among the former players' other concerns is that active players don't appreciate those who built the sport that now provides lucrative salaries.
Along those lines, Goodell endorsed a proposal by former Cowboys star Michael Irvin to bring rookies to the Pro Football Hall of Fame so they can learn about the sport's history.
``(Irvin) mentioned that to me last August at the Hall of Fame that it would be great if all our young players coming into the league could understand the rich tradition, history and the people that helped build that game before they came into the league,'' Goodell said. ``I agree. We're looking to see if we can do that.
``There are some logistics that are difficult to deal with, so I don't know if we're going to be able to accomplish it this year. In the short term, we're looking at alternatives where we may require rookies to come in and spend a day at the Hall of Fame so they can better understand what led to this opportunity that they're about to engage in. I think it's a terrific idea.''
DON'T YOU HATE IT WHEN...: CBS commentator Andy Rooney is a funny man.
How funny? He made Giants coach Tom Coughlin laugh during a news conference on Friday, which isn't easy.
Rooney asked Coughlin if anything irritates him about press coverage.
``That's a very good question,'' Coughlin said with a chuckle. ``What I've tried to do is be a little bit more patient this year than I've been in the past. Redundancy does bother me, I'll admit that, and wasting time is a big problem for me.''
SUPER SUPER TUESDAY: The police commissioner says New York City is planning for a post-Super Bowl parade Tuesday - aka Primary Day or Super Tuesday. The plans, of course, are contingent on the New York Giants beating the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly says the parade would start near Battery Park, followed by a City Hall Plaza ceremony.
Asked Friday about parade plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: ``I have refused to talk about it. I am not going to jinx the Giants' chance.''
He added: ``Go Big Blue!''
New England coach Bill Belichick had a typically muted reaction to word that New York was planning a parade.
``I know there is a lot of talk about, 'Somebody said this, somebody said that, somebody else is doing this, some other town is doing that,' `` Belichick said. ``Whatever it is, this game will be decided by the team that performs the best on Sunday.''
TWO BILLS: Belichick once described his relationship with Bill Parcells as ``complicated.''
It's about to get interesting again. Belichick served on Parcells' staffs with the Giants, Jets and Patriots. Now that Parcells is running the Miami Dolphins, the relationship will have a new chapter.
``Bill and I shared a lot of success together, and I think we'll always treasure those victories and those good times,'' Belichick said. ``He is a tremendous coach. He's done a tremendous job. He has had a tremendous career - a Hall of Fame career. I'm sure he will be there at some point.
``Unfortunately, now he is back in our division as a competitor,'' Belichick said. ``I totally respect him and his football ability as a coach, administrator and a talent evaluator. Now, we will be competing with each other again and I'm sure it will be very challenging.''
REMEMBERING TILLMAN: New York center Grey Ruegamer was a teammate of Pat Tillman's at nearby Arizona State. On a trip to University of Phoenix Stadium on Tuesday, Ruegamer and teammate Jared Lorenzen visited the memorial to Tillman, an Army Ranger killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman had left the Arizona Cardinals to join the military.
``It's kind of surreal to come back to Arizona for Super Bowl 42,'' Ruegamer said. ``That was Pat's number in college. We're playing at (University of) Phoenix Stadium, and he played for the Cardinals. And they have that memorial outside in front.
``It's kind of weird, just numberwise, and it probably doesn't mean anything,'' Ruegamer said. ``But those who know Pat and played with him probably see it as an attachment to him, and making more out of it than it needs to be.''

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