NFLPA HALL OF FAME
In 2016, the NFLPA, in connection with its 60th Anniversary, formed a Hall of Fame to commemorate the men and women who, through courage, dedication, and sacrifice on behalf of the NFLPA, have made significant and long-lasting contributions to its success and the betterment of its members.
These individuals have left an indelible mark on the history of the NFLPA, and we are truly grateful.
2017 nflpa hall of fame
Doug Allen served as a player rep for the Buffalo Bills before joining the political wing of the AFL-CIO in 1976, where he worked with the NFLPA to help better establish its reputation with the national labor movement. He rejoined the NFLPA in 1981 as an assistant to the Executive Director, acting as Gene Upshaw’s point man in developing licensing and marketing revenues for the NFLPA to sustain its fights in the courts. He successfully fought NFL Properties after the league tried to sign players away from the new group licensing program in 1989 after the union decertified. He was a clear fit for the president of the new NFLPA licensing subsidiary, NFL Players Inc., in 1994, and oversaw significant growth of the company until 2007. Read More
In 1983, NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw bought the NFLPA out of its exclusive licensing contract and made Pat Allen the Director of the NFLPA’s Group Licensing Department. Pat and her team took the Group Licensing department from $1 million in annual licensing revenues to over $1.4 billion dollars. Pat focused on strengthening important corporate relationships, most significantly with Electronic Arts (EA), which now pays players for using their name and likeness in Madden NFL. Her fight to ensure players received payment for companies using their name and likeness is felt by each player today. Read More
Reggie White is known for his Hall of Fame career, but also for acting as lead plaintiff in White v. NFL, the class-action antitrust case the NFLPA filed on behalf of all players in the wake of its victory in the 1992 Freeman McNeil free agency case. The parties settled on a new system in 1993 and the class represented by White was eventually paid millions in damages – a settlement White declined his share of, saying his involvement was based on principal and not on money. He is remembered as a hero as one of the biggest voices for the NFLPA in our fight to free agency. Read More
Dave Duerson served as Player Representative for the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, an Executive Committee member, and even acted as one of the named plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that helped bring free agency to the NFL in 1993. He was selected as the 1987 NFL Man of the Year, awarded the 1988 NFLPA Humanitarian of the Year award, and was a Trustee of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Retirement Plan. Duerson’s commitment to assist future generations has helped make professional football a safer game and the NFL a fairer league. Read More
Freeman McNeil was the main plaintiff in the NFLPA’s antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL in 1990, and was instrumental in earning his fellow players the right of free agency. During his 12-year career, all of which he spent with the New York Jets, McNeil was not able to search for the best deal or change teams in his prime due to the NFL’s Play B free agency system. McNeil understood significance of this case when he decided to become the lead plaintiff. Many view free agency as a given, but players like Freeman McNeil had to put their careers on the line for the benefit of all those who came after him.
Kermit Alexander became the Rams’ player rep in 1970 and quickly ascended through the union ranks, serving as a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee from 1971-1977, President in 1975, and west coast representative in 1976. He was one of only three players to participate in both the 1970-71 and 1974-77 collective bargaining agreement negotiations. He also played a key role in the NLRB filing charges against the NFL in 1974, charging that he and two other player reps were illegally cut or traded due to their activity with the NFLPA. His efforts resulted in many benefits and precedents being set for players. Read More
Trace Armstrong served as a player rep for the Chicago Bears, NFLPA Executive Committee member, and as the union President beginning in 1996. He served four consecutive two-year terms as President until his retirement after the 2003 season, making him the longest tenured President in NFLPA history. He left his mark by leading several union initiatives, including the NFLPA Financial Advisors Program and the Joint NFL/NFLPA Safety Committee. He also helped form the NFL’s Diversity Committee in 2002, leading to the development of the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview African-American coaching candidates for open positions. Armstrong pushed initiatives for agent regulations, helmet safety, player health and performance and more. Read More
As a Seahawk, Sam McCullum led a pre-game handshake demonstration, planned by the NFLPA, before each preseason game in 1982. This display was a league-wide gesture of solidarity in support of the Percentage of Gross Proposal and a likely strike during the regular season. In response, then-Seahawks head coach Jack Patera threatened any player who participated with a hefty fine. The Seahawks participated anyway, and Patera cut McCullum. The NFLPA and McCullum filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Seahawks for illegally cutting McCullum because of his union activity. After a ten-year court battle, McCullum came out victorious and received the largest back pay award in the history of the NLRB at the time. McCullum now serves as a trustee on the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Board and has been active in the NFLPA Former Players organization since his retirement in 1983. Read More
At a time when being a player rep was almost seen as a scarlet letter, Powell accepted that role with the New York Jets in 1982. When free agency became the union's primary goal in the mid-1980s, he became NFLPA President and led the players through the 1987 strike, attending negotiation sessions on a frequent basis. Powell became lead plaintiff in the antitrust suit against the league, challenging the owners' control that essentially prohibited free-agent movement. His sacrificial work and commitment helped build a legal guide for the NFLPA to renounce its union status.Read More
Frank Woschitz’s initial role at the NFLPA was to oversee union publications and serve as the primary contact with the media. He helped establish the NFLPA Retired Players Association in the 1980s, and his duties shifted to become the Staff Director of this new organization. Under Woschitz, the retired players’ membership grew exponentially and quickly became a strong force within the union’s structure. He began numerous other initiatives and retired from the NFLPA after nearly 25 years with the union. Read More
2016 NFLPA HALL OF FAME
Richard Berthelsen joined the NFLPA in 1972 and spent the next four decades as general counsel. He played an integral role in football's labor battles and the growth of the union. Not only did he step in as interim Executive Director following the passing of Gene Upshaw in 2008, but he also played top lieutenant for Ed Garvey, Gene Upshaw and DeMaurice Smith during the 1987 strike, 1993 collective bargainin talks, and 2001 lockout, respectively. Read More
Clark Gaines relentlessly fought during 1982 strike as a player representative. The next year, he seamlessly transitioned to the NFLPA staff, where he served in various roles for 27 years, including Assistant Executive Director. Gaines helped launch programs like the Collegiate Bowl, Native Vision, and player surveys that led to the improvement of playing surfaces. Read More
As legal counsel for then-NFLPA President John Mackey in 1971, Ed Garvey helped the NFLPA become the first sports union ever certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He became the first Executive Director of the union, serving for 12 years. Garvey led players through the first in-season strike and also brought advancements in medical rights packages, player agent regulation and revenue share. Read More
Billy Howton brought a list of four demands, including clean socks and jocks for his Green Bay teammates, to the first ever meeting of the NFLPA Board of Player Reps, leading to a legendary start to the union in 1956. He was elected as the first NFLPA President in 1958, and was best known for his 1959 ultimatum to owners that established the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan. Read More
Mike Kenn unified the Atlanta Falcons into one of the strongest union teams in the NFL during his playing career from 1978 to 1995. Kenn served as an Executive Committee member and NFLPA President for seven years. He also helped oversee the union during its decertification, which led to the 1993 court ruling to allow unrestricted free agency and a guaranteed percentage of gross revenues.
John Mackey was elected as the first President of the combined NFLPA in 1970, and played a large role in the NFLPA being viewed as a professional organization, also moving its headquarters to Washington, D.C. He agreed to be the first plaintiff in the lawsuit and provide critical testimony during a case that led to the ending of the Rozelle Rule that restricted free agency. Read More
Kevin Mawae provided a strong voice on the Executive Committee and as NFLPA President over the course of 2008 to 2012. He provided invaluable leadership during the five-month lockout in 2011, when he attended nearly every negotiating session. Read More
Brig Owens' leadership during his 12 seasons with the Washington Redskins made them arguably the strongest union team during the NFLPA's 60-year history. He served as a member of the Executive Committee and later joined NFLPA staff, where he headed several efforts such as the career counseling program. Read More
Known to some as the "father of sports labor action," Bill Radovich was the first former player to take the NFL to court over abuse of its monopoly powers. He fought eight years before earning the landmark 1957 ruling that said the NFL was subject to antitrust laws, which proved pivotal in future battles for the union. Read More
Gene Upshaw's name is synonymous with the NFLPA and the strong union we are today. His activism as a player and extensive accomplishments as NFLPA's Executive Director are unprecedented. As President (1980-1983), he established a new CBA that created severance pay plan, medical bill of rights and revenue share increases. He convinced player reps to renounce the NFLPA's union status and financed Freeman McNeil lawsuit in 1992 that ultimately led to players earning the right to free agency and a guaranteed share of club revenues. Upshaw spent 25 years as Executive Director before his untimely death in 2008, and during that time he led the union to many firsts, including a 401(k) program, player annuity plan, health reimbursement accounts for vested players, performance-based pay, and the establishment of NFL Players Inc. Read More