Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesdays with Paulie 6/12/07

NFL Players Union Dissed the Disabled
Da Coach comes to the aid of ex-players ignored by union

He is arguably the most popular sports figure in the city of Chicago. His name is synonymous with "winner" and his attitude defines the windy city. Yesterday, Chicago Bears Hall of Fame coach and tight end, Mike Ditka, spoke out against the NFL players union and their treatment of ex-players, crippled during their career.

Former Jacksonville and Cincinnati offensive lineman, Chris DeMarco, suffered a career ending and life changing injury during a game against Indianapolis in 1999. Today he is severely disabled, needing a cane and assistance from his wife to walk. DeMarco alleges that the NFL players union including their President, Gene Upshaw, have ignored his claims for long term medical assistance. DeMarco made his charges at a news conference with Ditka and his organization, "Gridiron Greats," which provides assistance to players in dire need.

To show the extent of the Upshaw's shame in this matter, the union leader claimed "No one in my office could believe this was the guy they were talking about, we've been taking care of this guy." Upshaw is referring to a measly $9,748.81 in checks sent to DeMarco over the past 9 months. Sadly, this doesn't even scratch the surface of the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed for his overall care.

During a television appearance on the program "Chicago Tonight," the ex-football player stated that he and his family have been homeless on three separate occasions over the past three years. He claims that the union has lost his claim twice and after his third filing, he was informed he made his claim too late. His phone records show a 128 phone calls to the union offices from mid-August of last year to mid-May of this year. In five years of dealing with his disability, DeMarco has yet to be seen by an NFL physician.

Speaking for the players union was board member and former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson. To say that the former safety looked like a complete idiot would be an understatement. Duerson kept pushing the notion that there is a process that must be followed, however he was unable to address the fact that De Marco's claims had never been processed or his phone calls returned. Duerson may be correct in saying there are procedures that must be met, but how many years does it take for the union to schedule a doctors appointment?

Before the program, Duerson tried deflecting the allegations with claims that Coach Ditka never cared about injured players when was the coach. What that has to do with the harsh reality that DeMarco, his wife and children have lived in storage facilities on and off for three years, beats me.

Mike Ditka and his organization Gridiron Greats should be commended for taking up this cause and coming to the aid of former athletes who have been abandoned by the players union and the incompetent Gene Upshaw.

Here comes Freddy
Conservatives rally behind former Tennessee Senator

As the 2008 political season heats up, it has become apparent that conservatives aren't jumping for joy over the current GOP field of Presidential candidates. Most tolerate Rudy Giuliani, but despise his stand on abortion and gay rights. John McCain has committed political suicide over his support of the recent immigration bill. Mitt Romney talks like a good conservative, but his history, flip-flopping and religion puts him in the untrustworthy category of most far-right Republicans. The rest of the field has respected conservative candidates in Mike Huckabee and Duncan Hunter, but voters don't believe they can win and beating Clinton or Obama is priority one.

For months the speculation has been that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would be the conservatives knight in shinning armor or former Tennessee Senator and Actor, Fred Thompson would take up their cause. The Law and Order actor has answered the call and finds himself in a tie with Giuliani as the GOP front runners.

Thompson is also putting together a campaign staff of respected Republicans. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, Elizabeth, who was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs and Coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives, have joined the Thompson campaign.

Ironically, Thompson comes from a GOP block in Tennessee that was viewed as more moderate than the typical southern Republican. Nevertheless, his credentials and record make him a favorite amongst staunch conservatives nationwide and his candidacy is picking up steam like a locomotive bringing Ted Kennedy his weekly whiskey shipment.

As you may recall, your brilliant blogger is in the Giuliani camp, but that does not mean I dislike the rest of the pack. Truth be told, I am very fond of Thompson. He is a man of high integrity and understands the threats against our country and the need for fiscal responsibility in government. Not to mention he was awesome in The Hunt for Red October.



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