For Immediate Release
November 1, 2016



Labor union has made significant gains in player benefits and rights since its establishment in 1956

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On this day, the NFL Players Association is proud to commemorate 60 years of service in fighting for the well-being and rights of NFL athletes.

When a group of players gathered in November of 1956 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, marking the NFLPA’s first meeting as a union, they demanded one simple thing: a voice. They demanded a seat at the table to negotiate fair wages, safe working conditions, a pension and basic employee benefits. Six decades later, NFL players are more than just employees; they are partners in the most popular and highest revenue-generating sport in America.

“It’s a great privilege to serve the men of the National Football League, and the same cries of yesterday’s players still ring true today, which is why investing in our history is so important,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said. “For example, the fight for better healthcare today is built on the foundation of a benefits package that players fought for yesteryear. Likewise, calling for the NFL to be transparent about the health and safety risks of professional football is derived from that persistent demand of our players wanting to be treated as men first.”

For the first time in its history, the NFLPA marked the occasion with a comprehensive campaign that encompasses events, logos, photo and video content, an oral history recognizing player leaders and other special celebrations. These included:

  • 60 Heroes: Honoring 60 men and women whose courage, vision, sacrifice and dedication to the advancement of all NFL players – past, present and future – have helped make the union what it is today.
  • Diamond Celebration: The NFLPA community came together at the Newseum on October 1 to observe its distinguished past while excitedly looking ahead to its bright future.
  • Hall of Fame: In connection with its 60th anniversary, the NFLPA formed a Hall of Fame to commemorate any person who exemplifies the overall mission of contributing to the success and betterment of its player members. The inaugural Hall of Fame class featured Richard Berthelsen, Clark Gaines, Ed Garvey, Billy Howton, Mike Kenn, John Mackey, Kevin Mawae, Brig Owens, Bill Radovich and Gene Upshaw.


For more on the NFLPA’s rich history and 60th anniversary celebration, please visit:





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