- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

SAN DIEGO The NFL Players Association blasted Dan Snyder yesterday for the Washington Redskins owner's reported attempt to avoid paying players workman's compensation.

"We have a contract, and [Snyder] is asking to be excused from that contract," NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen said at a news conference in advance of Sunday's Super Bowl XXXVII.

NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said Snyder is acting "to the detriment of the 60 guys in his locker room" in seeking relief from the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. A committee of the former body will have a hearing on the matter Tuesday in Richmond.

However, attorneys for the Redskins and the NFL Management Council strongly disagreed with the union position.

"We feel it's a matter of equity and fairness," Redskins attorney Melissa Bernstein said. "Players are double-dipping when they are paid their salary while injured and then receive workman's compensation later."

Players also are eligible for $250,000 in disability benefits once they are retired.

Though the NFLPA singled out Snyder and the Redskins, management council attorney Sylvia Krainin noted that 13 other states have considered similar measures.

However, Berthelsen said that not only do the Redskins unlike their players earn their revenues in Maryland instead of Virginia but that the proposed Virginia legislation differs from its predecessors in other states because it covers only football players rather than all professional athletes and thus is specifically tailored, to assist Snyder and the Redskins.

In other developments, Upshaw said the NFLPA is switching its minority hiring focus from coaches to the front office and is developing a program to train players for such positions. The union also is seeking to lessen the suspensions for supplement use and for helmet-to-helmet hits and to change the overtime rules to give each team at least one possession.

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