WASHINGTON (AP) -NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and union chief Gene Upshaw plan to testify Tuesday at a Senate Commerce committee hearing on the NFL's retirement system and the problems for former players who are disabled from injuries.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. will chair the hearings. Other witnesses will include former Chicago coach and Hall of Fame tight end Mike Ditka and Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers.
Ditka has been sharply critical of the NFL's pension system, heading a group of former players seeking reform of the process, which is overseen by a board with members appointed both by the owners and the NFL Players Association.
``Football generates billions of dollars in revenue each year,'' Dorgan said in a statement released by his office.
``But injuries, many of which last a lifetime, are also part of the game,'' Dorgan said. ``Many players say the NFL's retirement system seeks to delay, or avoid altogether, paying disability payments to players with long term injuries. The NFL says those complaints are overstated. The committee wants the facts.''
The NFL has said pensions are improving and there's no need for Congress to step in.
``Our collectively bargained package of retirement, medical and disability benefits is substantial and has grown steadily over the past two decades,'' said league spokesman Greg Aiello. ``Both current players and retirees have benefited through the improvements in these benefits.''
Upshaw was not present at an earlier hearing into the complaints of retired players. He said that was because he was out of the country but pledged to attend any future hearing.
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