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Mary Agee, Board Appointee, NFL Player Care Foundation

February 1, 2012

Mary Agee:

{PCF is an independent charity organization whose sole mission is to help retired players improve their quality of life. The PCF is governed by a Board of Directors with representation from the NFL, the NFL Players Association, the Hall of Fame and the NFL Alumni Association.}

First, can you let readers know about the NFL Player Care Foundation – what it does for players and how players are made aware of the services you offer?

The Player Care Foundation assists medically and financially distressed former NFL players by providing them financial grants and access to free or affordable medical assistance.  It also grants money for research that benefits retired players.

Where does the Foundation  get the monies and how does it decide how to use them?

Principally from the NFL and some fund-raised dollars.
How did you get involved in the foundation and what is your current role?

The other Board members were from the football world.  The only other non-football Board member is Ken Scherer, the CEO of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.  I was brought on to add knowledge and experience regarding social work services, as it was quickly becoming evident that this perspective would add value.
What are the types of issues players come to the foundation for most when they leave the game, and how do you first work with them?

The issues are as varied as in the general public.  It can be foreclosure issues, issues around medical help and care.  Many retired players are unaware of what resources they are entitled to as former players, so the Foundation helps educate them to know what resources are available in a confidential, respectful atmosphere.
Many of the problems these players face are as much emotional/psychological as they are physical. What programs exist for such issues?

The Foundation does not directly provide emotional/psychological care, but can pay for and help locate those services.  In addition, the NFL has neurological care programs, joint replacement programs, the 88 Plan program – all designed to address the physical and mental health of former players.
How do you get out in front of players before they leave the game to help them prepare for life after football financially and socially?

There are a number of programs in place starting with the Rookie Symposium when they first enter the game and throughout their career.
How does the foundation determine who to help and how? What are the parameters it uses for these determinations?

A player must have two credited seasons and be financially challenged.  We review the application, determine eligibility and then discuss how best to help.  
In speaking to a number of former players, many feel that the benefits have improved for players suffering from NFL-related injuries/issues over the years, but that those improvements could be built upon even further. What changes would you like to see to the NFL’s programs and strategy that assist these players?

The Foundation has used the information from our work with individuals to identify ways to strengthen NFL programs. 

One example is the Career Transition Program, which is a program for recently retired players to help them transition and adjust to leaving the NFL.  This is a three day program held in an academic setting that provides former players with information, tools and strategies on what to expect during this transition and how to cope and succeed.
How involved are the current and retired players in the establishment and implementation of these programs, and how so?

The Foundation is only available for retired players.  So far we have assisted over 375 players and their families and have granted over 3.75 million dollars in grants.  We also have given $2.5 million in research.

The players are very involved.  Several former players are on the Board; others help to promote information about the Foundation; and both the Players’ Union and alumni association collaborate on projects and outreach.

The NFL takes some criticism at times for what some feel is a lack of support for some of the older retired players, especially in regards to the size of the pensions they receive versus what baseball players make. Do you feel the criticism is justified? What factors are missed if any by those critics?

I am not qualified to answer this.  All I can say is that the Player Care Foundation helps irrespective of age or years played.
What would surprise fans (and perhaps players) most about the NFL Player Care Foundation and it’s work with players?

I think the fact that we are a non-partisan, confidential charity that helps players not based on the years of service or the quality of their play – but on their needs.  The NFL truly does care about all players who contributed to the success of the game.
What do you feel are some of your greatest successes of the foundation – what are you most proud of in terms of the foundation’s work with retired players?

I think it is looking to go beyond providing the direct assistance – such as seeing the need for help with transitioning out of the NFL – and then developing a program that is beginning to reach many of the newly retiring players.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jack sutton permalink
    September 2, 2012 8:50 am

    would like to say my dad jos sutton he is 88 and is dieing in fla, played on the eagles 1950-54 as we all know back then the pay was 5000 a year not much compared to todays standard , i dont know what we would have done without the nfl player care, eden halladay is THE BEST !! MY DAD WOULD BE IN A STATE FICILITY IF IT WAS NOT FOR THEM , they have helped my dad many time with health care and giving him the ability to get home nursing care in his final days our family can not thank them enough GOD BLESS THEM thank you thank you thank you sutton family

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