NEW YORK (AP) -The NFL and its players association are updating their disability plan for retired players in the hopes that it will make it easier for them and for disabled players to get their benefits more efficiently and quickly.
It includes a medical director to advise the claims committee; medical panels in metropolitan areas; specialists who can help players apply for benefits by phone; and other updated procedures, including a prescription drug card for all retired players vested in the pension plan.
The plan, first reported by The New York Times on its Web site, comes in response to repeated complaints by retired players about the current system.
It was confirmed Tuesday evening by union spokesman Carl Francis.
The change comes a day after the league and union announced that 14 hospitals around the country had been designated to treat retired players who need joint replacements.
It also comes on a day when Mike Ditka, the most outspoken critic of the union's handling of retirees, announced in Minneapolis that he would dissolve his Hall of Fame Assistance Trust Fund following a report that it had given only a small amount of money to former players in need.
USA Today reported last week that Ditka's fund had collected $1.3 million since it was formed in 2004, but netted only about $315,000 after expenses and distributed just $57,000 to former players.
Ditka disputed part of the report, saying the trust has actually given away $159,000.
Ditka said Tuesday the fund's balance of more than $600,000 would be divided equally between Misericordia, a residential facility for developmentally disabled youth, and Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund, another fund that helps former professional football players in need.
``Terrific,'' The Times quoted Ditka, a Hall of Fame tight end and former coach of the Bears and Saints, as saying of the new plan. ``That's the greatest thing in the world. Get rid of the red tape. If they do that, that's the greatest thing in the world.''
Ditka was joined by several former Vikings in Minnesota as well as current players Kyle Turley of Kansas City and Matt Birk of the Vikings. Turley has pledged a game check of $25,000 to the fund.
``As players today, we definitely stand on the shoulders of those that have come before us,'' Birk said. ``We're reaping a lot of the benefits of the price that was paid by those players. We can't forget that.''

Recent NFL Discussions

2017 Heisman Odds on Wed, Mar 2017 by Blade
College / NBA today on Sun, Mar 2017 by TtomBoBadly
SNOW on Tue, Mar 2017 by Michael Cash
EARLY COLL PLAYS FOR WED. on Wed, Mar 2017 by Timmy1961

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail The Next Atlanta Falcons Despite suffering one of the greatest collapses in sports history at Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons still managed to overcome significant odds to reach the NFL’s...
Thumbnail Eddie Lacy 2017 Prop Odds After signing with the Seahawks earlier this month, how many touchdowns and rushing yards will Eddie Lacy earn in 2017?
Thumbnail DeSean Jackson Bucs Prop Odds How many touchdowns will DeSean Jackson post with his new team in 2017? Here's a look at the odds.
Thumbnail Brandin Cooks Patriots Prop Odds How many total receiving yards will new Patriot Brandin Cooks have in 2017?
Thumbnail Alshon Jeffery TD Prop Odds How many touchdown passes and receiving yards will Alshon Jeffery rack up in 2017? Oddsmakers have released projections for the newest Eagle.

NFL Team Pages