Bernie Parrish - Life After The NFL

Life After The NFL

During his time with the Browns, Parrish served as team representative to the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), and later NFLPA vice president. After retiring as a player, Parrish worked with the Teamsters in the late 1960s in an unsuccessful attempt to organize a new Teamsters-affiliated NFL/AFL players' union.

In 1971, Parrish wrote a best-selling book, They Call It A Game, published by The Dial Press, about the economics and politics of the NFL. His book included the controversial allegation that the NFL had fixed the outcomes of some of its games. Some critics, however, expressed the opinion that Parrish had failed to substantiate such claims in any material way.

Parrish enjoyed a second career as a hotel developer until he retired to spend more time with his wife and family. In 2007, Parrish and former Green Bay Packers cornerback Herb Adderley filed a class action suit on behalf of retired NFL players against the NFLPA and Players, Inc., a subsidiary of the NFLPA, over retired players' benefits derived from player image and name licensing fees. While Parrish was eventually dismissed from the suit as a lead plaintiff of the represented class, the trial jury found in favor of the retired players and awarded a $28.1 million judgment against the NFLPA and Players, Inc., including $21 million in punitive damages. The NFLPA appealed the judgment in February 2009, but eventually settled the case without further litigation.

Parrish was a harsh critic of the late NFLPA President Gene Upshaw, and publicly excoriated Upshaw's record on providing disability and medical assistance to retired NFL players. While many retired players agreed with Parrish's criticisms of Upshaw, many former player and other observers believed that Parrish went too far in his attacks against Upshaw when he strongly implied that Upshaw was involved in the death of his first wife. Upshaw's first wife apparently died of natural causes, and she and Upshaw had been divorced for over a decade at the time of her death, and police investigators said Upshaw was not a suspect or person of interest in any investigation. A Sports Illustrated article about the rift between retired players and Upshaw implied that a number of former players hesitated before having Parrish speak to the press on the issue.

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