A retired pro football player asks Roger Goodell to explain the limited NFL settlement


Roger Goodell

Roger Goodell (WikiImages)

On Saturday, October 25, 2014 I heard George Visger, a former San Francisco 49’r, speak about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a panel discussion about the subject at the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners conference in Atlanta. I’ve known George for a few years through the brain injury community where he is a tireless advocate for brain injury and the rights to benefits for injured players. He’s contributed to our blog, NeuroNotes, and had given freely of his time to speak to patients who are struggling with their injuries. George is one of those guys who applied his toughness on the field to facing the challenges of his football related brain injuries and finding time and energy to help others.

A question to George came from a nurse life care planner at the conference and the question was: “what would he ask Roger Goodell who was speaking at the Brain Injury Association of Washington Gala Event?” Not one to mince words, George eloquently explained his personal journey, and posed the following question:


As you well know, I’ve survived 9 NFL caused emergency VP shunt brain surgeries and multiple gran mal seizures since the 1981 Super Bowl season, and was forced to sue for Workers Compensation just to get my medical bills paid for. After 33 years of seizures, brain surgeries, and another current legal battle to get my medical bills paid, I still don’t qualify for any NFL benefits.

In the last 3 years, I’ve lost my home, my business and my marriage of 19 years due to major short term memory issues and cognitive impairment from my NFL injury. Two years ago, I was rated 100% disabled by California Social Security and forced to go out on SSDI. My only benefits are through Social Security and Medicare, which I pay for, while the NFL grossed $9.5 billion last year alone.

My question is this:

“How do you justify your $44 Million dollar per year salary, when 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of us former players cannot qualify for ANY NFL benefits?”


George Visger

The NFL is doing much to market the settlement as a fair and equitable solution for players living with TBI. I think George’s question sets the record straight on how limited the NFL settlement really is and the vast number of players who are excluded, with George himself in that group. Commissioner Goodell is paid an enormous amount of money by an organization which makes a fortune on the sport of football. I want to know how Roger Goodell will answer the question, don’t you?

About Rolf Gainer Ph.D.

Dr. Rolf Gainer is the founder of the Neurologic Rehabilitation Institute at Brookhaven Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma as well as the Neurological Rehabilitation Institute of Ontario, in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Gainer is a psychologist with more than twenty-five years of experience in the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. Dr. Gainer has designed and operated innovative rehabilitation programs in the United States and Canada for individuals who have been regarded as difficult to serve. He is currently involved in conducting two outcome studies related to the long-term issues faced by individuals with brain injuries and a dual diagnosis. He has presented papers throughout the United States and Canada in many professional conferences and educational forums.

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8 Responses to A retired pro football player asks Roger Goodell to explain the limited NFL settlement

  1. Tom Baugh October 28, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Unfortunately Roger will probably not answer it. He rarely answers questions which may be controversial. In fact I have sent numerous letters to both Roger and DeMaurice Smith and never even received an acknowledgement of having received the letters, let alone answer questions.

    • George Visger October 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm #

      I’ve been doing the same for years. One way I have found to sometimes get a response, (De did call me years ago), is I always make sure I cc any and every newspaper, media outlet or writers I know. Sometimes when the NY Times posts the story it gets peoples attention. (see my article I was asked to write for US News & World Report.)

      US News & World Report Op/Ed 021013

      Most people have a misconception of what the majority of us older players deal with, while Rodger paid himself $21,153.85/hr last year, (not counting overtime), the vast majority of us barely made in a year what Rodger makes per hour. I signed for $35,000/yr as a 6th round pick in 1980.

      ESPN OUTSIDE THE LINES: The Damage Done 020813

      George Visger
      SF 49ers 80 & 81
      Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
      Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

      The Visger Group – Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting/Motivational Speaker

    • Kirk Johnson November 3, 2014 at 4:30 am #

      Roger Goodell is proving his inability to deal with the most important issues that the NFL has to deal with right now. Possibly a change of leadership might improve this very uncaring league. And when will they become a “taxable organization”? The tax exempt status is just outrageous in this day and age. Pay your share into our great country’s needy treasury. That is about it for me. I feel great sympathy for all of the medical issues that former players face. I was a pharmacist at Mayo clinic for nearly 30 years , so I understand very complex medical needs.

  2. Rick Sanford October 29, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Roger won’t answer because he obviously doesn’t care about the retired players. Add DeMaurice Smith to the above comment. What has the NFLPA done for any of the retired players other than ask us for dues? It’s the current players association. Why not ask De Smith for a comment on this so-called great settlement.

  3. Eric Saferstein October 29, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    There’s another looming issue that Roger Goodell won’t discuss. And it’s much worse than the concussion lawsuit — an asymmetric national security disaster potentially impacting the 1 o’clock slate of games.


  4. Mary Salerno October 31, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Maybe if enough of us bold, brassy, TBI nurse specialists get together and back Rog into a corner he will answer. What he says might be total horse hockey but get enough RNs together who understand TBI and PTSD and we are heartless!

  5. Phil Smith November 2, 2014 at 3:27 am #

    My Brother in law has CTE from playing pro football,the NFL and Goodell are pathetic,they treat current and past players line they are disposable.The NFL needs to step up,and do the right thing,but please don’t hold your breath


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