March 5, 2010
Mr. Drew Brees
c/o New Orleans Saints
5800 Airline Drive
Metairie, LA. 70003
First and foremost, I want to congratulate you on the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory and on being named as the game’s Most Valuable Player. Both the victory and the honor are well deserved.
As a member of the New Orleans Saints and the National Football League, you now belong to an exclusive brotherhood of NFL players that extends back to 1920, when the league was first started.
Unfortunately, some past statements you’ve made regarding retired players suggest that you may not be aware of the true history and plight of the men that gave their blood, sweat and tears to make the game what it is today – an 8 Billion dollar enterprise that is very rewarding for today’s players. Some players are becoming multi-millionaires before they’ve ever set one foot on the field. Retired players would like them….. and all active players to understand how they have arrived at this point in time.
Ever since my 12-year career in the NFL ended, I’ve had an opportunity to reflect on my experience in the NFL and look back at the huge sacrifices that were made by the pioneers of the game. Many players were blackballed by NFL teams for their union activities and the player strikes that were conducted.
The personal struggles of many former players to overcome their injuries and deal with medical bills that, in most cases, were never covered by an NFL Disability, Health Reimbursement, or medical benefits plan, was one of the major reasons I decided that I would do everything in my power to advocate, assist and empower retired players.
I was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in 1972, and joined a team that had a tremendous impact on the National Football League. The victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL championship – dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played” – was the start of the league’s long and lucrative relationship with television and the media. Baltimore’s loss to the AFL’s New York Jets, in Super Bowl III, gave credibility to the upstart league and ultimately led to the merger of the AFL and NFL. Thus, from the beginning of my NFL career, I was exposed to, and gained great respect for the NFL’s lineage, history and heritage. Fortunately for me, the Colt’s organization maintained strong ties to their retired players. I got to know, respect and count among my friends such former greats as John Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, John Mackey, and a host of others.
It was these men who compelled me to advocate for retired players and to raise funds for retired players in need. John Unitas, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, lost the use of his right hand as the result of a football injury suffered decades earlier. His request for disability benefits was denied. John Mackey, the first president of the NFLPA following the merger of the NFL and AFL, was diagnosed with dementia at age 59 and is unable to care for himself. His wife’s request for assistance from the union was denied. It was only after our “band of brothers” in Baltimore pressured the NFLPA and Sylvia Mackey appealed to the league that the 88 Plan was born and the Mackey’s finally received some aid.
Because of the Baltimore Colts’ rich history and strong tradition, I invite you to visit us here in Baltimore. I’d like to take you through Sports Legends Museum, where you’ll experience the close relationship the Baltimore Colts of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s had with the City of Baltimore, much like the relationship today’s New Orleans Saints have with the City of New Orleans. I’d like you to meet Marty Domres, Art Donovan, Sam Havrilak, Lydell Mitchell, Jim Mutscheller, Rick Volk, Howard Stevens, Joe Washington and other Baltimore Colts who have enjoyed successful careers in business. I’d like you to meet Joe Ehrmann, Lenny Moore and Sanders Shiver, who have dedicated themselves to helping others. I’d like you to meet Maxie Baughan, whose playing and coaching careers in the NFL and in the Ivy League include world championships, league championships and division championships. And I’d like you to meet Sandra Unitas and Sylvia Mackey, who can attest to the high price John Unitas and John Mackey paid for their careers in pro football.
Once you’ve visited us and talked with us, I think you’ll have a clearer understanding of who we are, what we have accomplished and how we built the foundation on which today’s players, the union and the league now stand. Hopefully you will gain a new perspective on the men that paved the way for your generation.
Please call me at 410-530-8696 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can make the necessary arrangements. I look forward to meeting you and to hosting you here in Baltimore. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Baltimore Colts, 1972-1981
San Diego Chargers, 1982-1983