“There are players who are 30 years old, have the rest of their lives ahead of them, are crippled with disability and the amount they made during one season in the NFL isn’t going to touch the avalanche of medical expenses,” explains Frank Darras.
In the wake of the proposed NFL concussion lawsuit settlement, the state of California is moving on legislation that would stop professional athletes from seeking workers’ compensation coverage in this state. Both the state Assembly and Senate passed the bill that would substantially limit out-of-state athletes from pursuing work comp claims based on having played in California during their careers.
While many have rallied behind the legislation, with thoughts echoing the idea that these pro athletes have made millions playing a dangerous sport and should have better prepared themselves for a solid financial future, the truth is that very few football players are pulling down the big salaries of Tony Romo or Tom Brady. With an average career span of just under four years, many players are in the NFL just long enough to be seriously injured and shown their way out the door.
In a sport in which 25 percent of retirees will require a new hip, knee or other joint, there can be no doubt that providing for the long term health care and financial stability of current and former players should be on the NFL’s mind, the NFL Players’ Association’s mind and the mind of every current, former or aspiring NFL athlete. On top of serious surgeries, NFL athletes are five times more likely than others to develop arthritis and four times more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or ALS.
As the NFL attempts to limit its exposure to liability for serious health problems affecting its former players through settlement and a powerful lobby at the California state legislature, athletes must take control of their own future. A long-term disability policy may be the best option for players after even a short career of taking hard hits leaves them with a lifetime of health issues.