STUMP » Articles » Diversions: Are You Ready for Some Football....Pensions? » 1 February 2017, 16:48

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Diversions: Are You Ready for Some Football....Pensions?  


1 February 2017, 16:48

Okay, I don’t much of anything about football. Yes, I’m aware that the Super Bowl is being played next weekend.

I’m much more keyed into gossip over the MST3K reboot. (Check out this facebook group if you’re interested in that sort of thing.)

Speaking of….


What? You thought I’d do a straight football post?

I first came across NFL pension issues in 2009:

Even the richest sports league in the world can’t meet its pension obligations.

NFL owners in March voted to allow teams to opt out of the league-run pension plan for coaches and other non-playing employees. Already nine of the NFL’s 32 clubs have opted out of the program — including the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers — and three more teams are considering following suit, said Larry Keenan, executive director of the NFL Coaches Association.

The move has angered coaches, and led to worries some NFL coaches and employees might leave the league. Last month, two veteran Indianapolis Colts coaches, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd, retired because of the pension changes, Mr. Keenan said. “At this time, we’re still monitoring the issue on a team-by-team basis and staying in constant communication with the coaches,” he said in an e-mail.

Jeff Pash, NFL executive vice president and general counsel, told reporters at the league’s spring meeting last month that the reason for the change is “entirely related to the drop in the stock market” over the past 18 months that left many “clubs’ pension plans quite underfunded,” according to a transcript of the press conference.

The executive director of the NFL Coaches Association blasted the NFL Saturday for showing “a total lack of respect” toward the league’s assistant coaches by altering their league-wide pension plan.

The change, a cost-cutting measure that allows individual teams to opt out of the plan, was voted on by NFL owners in March “with no forewarning,” according to Larry Kennan. The change led to the recent retirement of two long-time Indianapolis Colts assistants. And in an interview on Sirius NFL Radio’s “The Weekend Kickoff,” Kennan said other assistants have discussed quitting, too.
That angst has led to renewed talk of forming an actual coaches union – something Kennan said was a possibility even though “we’ve been threatened many times that if we formed an association they’d fire all of us.” He also said he believes the owners may have made the decision on the pension plan with other motives in mind.

“We understand that everybody is cutting expenses around the country, at General Motors and a lot of the major corporations,” Kennan said. “But a lot of them are on the verge of bankruptcy. I can’t imagine that the NFL is on the verge of bankruptcy, bringing in over $8 billion last year. For them to do this, particularly with no advance warning, it makes no sense. It leads me to believe that it was maybe a knee-jerk reaction to the economy and also maybe it was a strategy to deal with the negotiations they’re getting ready to do with the players and the lockout the owners are talking about.”

Then in 2012, somebody else pointed out an NFL pensions issue:

The lockout is all about the pension plan. I found the 2010 actuarial information on the NFL Officials’ Pension Plan on The defined benefit (DB) plan covers 118 referees and has a target normal cost of $2.1 million, or about $18,000 per referee per year. The NFL is proposing to freeze the DB plan and contribute $16,500 to a 401(k), with the contributions increasing to $22,000. The referees want to keep the DB plan.



Remember how I mentioned one of my themes this year would be MEPs?

Guess what!

A post from John Bury:

Found the NFL Players’ Plan. It’s a mulitemployer plan so games can still be played. Funded status is pretty bad but not as pathetic as NBA Players Plan.

MLB bad too.

That was October 2012.

What about now? Don’t worry, the Society of Actuaries can tell you!

National Football League
Players’ Pension Plan Stats

NFL players have been covered by this pension plan since 1962. The plan considers age 55 to be the standard retirement age. If a player waits until later to start his benefit, his benefit is actuarially increased accordingly. Players are fully vested after 3 credited seasons or 5 years of service in other capacities (for example, as a coach), but the amount of retirement benefits is based on the number of credited seasons.

Pension Plan Stats

As of April 1, 2015, the most recent publicly available data.

Active players 2,169
Retirees receiving pension benefits 4,403
Inactive players 6,017
Total participants 12,589

Average approx. annual pension benefit $34,000
Total pension benefits paid in 2015 $146 million
Plan assets $1.8 billion
Plan benefit liabilities $2.5 billion
Unfunded liability $0.7 billion
Funded ratio 73%

As others noted, it was fairly poorly funded not that long ago.

The 2013 report looked bad:

Pension Plan Stats
As of April 1, 2013, the most recent publicly available data.
Active players 2,174
Retirees receiving pension benefits 4,060
Inactive players 5,782
Total participants 12,016

Average approximate annual pension benefit $45,000
Total pension benefits paid in 2013 $183 million
Plan assets $1.4 billion
Plan benefit liabilities $2.8 billion
Unfunded liability $1.5 billion
Funded ratio 48%

NFL club contributions in 2013 $300 million
Cost of benefits earned in 2013 $ 36 million

The SOA has info on other sports players plans…as well as actors

Problem of being a pro athlete retired at 35

An infographic on NFL pensions from 2015


LinkedIn has some info on post-player careers

What jobs do NFL players take up once they hang up their cleats? We crunched LinkedIn data to find out.
Every year, on the first Sunday in February, Americans break out their favorite jersey, stock up on junk food and get ready to cheer – it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Atlanta Falcons fans will be watching their team take the field for the first time since 1999, while New England Patriots diehards will be cheering on their golden boy, Tom Brady.

As we get ready to watch the players take the field we at LinkedIn can’t help but wonder, where do they work after they retire? So, before we dive into our wings and ready our fingers to tweet about our favorite commercials, we took a look at LinkedIn data for over 3,000 former NFL players to figure out what happens after they score the final touchdown.

You may be surprised to learn that most former NFL players don’t head straight into sports-related professions. In fact, 48% prefer to be their own boss or be hands-on with customers, working as entrepreneurs, sales and customer management professionals.

Have an infographic:

Enjoy game day! (I’ll be watching bad movies)

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