In the story here about the late Dave Duerson’s loud altercation with Sam Huff and Bernie Parrish in a Congressional committee hearing room in 2007, I have characterized both Huff and Parrish as historic builders of the National Football League Players Association who became disenchanted with the NFLPA’s advocacy on behalf of disabled retired players.
In an email to me, Dave Meggyesy objected to what he called “revisionist history” with respect to Huff. “Sam Huff was not a union supporter or a union leader. He was and is a management guy,” Meggyesy wrote. “Sam claims union affiliation and sentiment through his father, mine workers I believe. This apple fell far from the tree. The Marriott hotel chain is and has been non-union, Sam has been a spokesman for them for years.”
I respect Meggyesy, who played linebacker for the old St. Louis football Cardinals from 1963 through 1969 before retiring and writing the book Out of Their League, a breakthrough critical look at the football industry. He later served many years as the NFLPA’s western regional director.
Regarding the case of Brent Boyd – the proximate cause of Duerson’s outburst during criticism of his role on the NFL Player Care review board, which rejected Boyd’s application for mental disability benefits – Meggyesy said, “Duerson shows the impact of CTE, nothing more. Boyd’s case should stand on its own, and no doubt be reevaluated.”
Unfortunately, I disagree with Meggyesy on that point. Duerson, and by extension the NFLPA, have been wrong, loud wrong, on the issue of football brain injuries and on taking the most aggressive and best steps to protect the community of retired players. The Brent Boyd case emphatically does not stand “on its own”; it must be viewed in the context of years of league-friendly, suppressed, and incomplete research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy.