The NFL, what many (including this avid sports fan) consider to be the nation’s favorite and most popular sport’s league, has taken an action that could potentially undermine the retirement security of it workers and retirees.
I’m not talking about the retirement security of the league’s highly paid players – players are covered by a separate pension plan. I’m talking about the NFL coaches, office staff, and others who provide team support. The league, which has doled out $100 million contracts to players like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, is reneging on its retirement promises to team staff.
According to various news reports, NFL owners used their annual winter meetings to allow each team to decide if it wanted to stick with the league’s pension plan or if it wanted to start one of their own. Prior to this, all NFL teams belonged to the same retirement plans. While it’s possible that teams could improve their benefits, it’s more likely that teams will freeze their pensions or suspend their 401(k) matching contributions.
And, unfortunately, the policy change also gives many of the NFL’s most-valued and long-time coaches a reason to retire from the league before any changes go into effect. Already ESPN.com is reporting that two Indianapolis Colts coaches are planning on retiring now because certain changes could result in a loss of benefits. And there could be more to come. CBSSports.com is reporting that a memo circulated among NFL coaches indicates that at least nine teams plan on making changes to their pensions.
According to an interview with ProFootballWeekly.com, Al Everest, special teams coach for the San Francisco 49ers, “one of the key ingredients of staying [in the N.F.L] …is because you knew down the line that you were securing your retirement.”
Now that this may no longer be the case, many NFL coaches, assistants and staff are worried about their retirement security. And they have a reason to be.