2013 Was Quite the Year for the NFL
According to Sports Illustrated, 2013 is touted as the Year of the Injury due to the increase in ACL injuries, the ongoing concussion lawsuit and the long-discussed benefits of disability insurance policies for pro-athletes. Several events have occurred recently in the world of football, which have resulted in a lot of media attention (2013: Year of the Injury?, Sports Illustrated, 4/12/2013).
The NCAA recently dealt with a lawsuit brought by 3 former college players claiming the NCAA did not properly address the risks of concussions and did not do enough to help prevent serious brain injuries (Former Players Suing NCAA Over Concussions, The Sports Exchange, September 6, 2013) (The $5 Million Question: Should College Athletes Buy Disability Insurance?, The Atlantic, April 11, 2013).
The ongoing NFL concussion settlement was put into motion in August 2013 and involves more than 4,500 former players for concussion-linked injuries. The first settlement proposed was denied in January 2014 due to worry that the NFL’s $675 million fund wouldn’t be enough. The judge is making some steady headway with the second settlement imminent.
“My advice for these guys is weigh the pros and cons carefully before you opt out,” counsels Frank N. Darras, America’s disability insurance lawyer to the pros. “There is too much of a risk of losing the payments or benefits forever if former players start leaving to go their own route. The worry is that these guys will listen to someone who doesn’t quite know what they are doing and lose their benefits as a result. Concussions are a serious business and I don’t want to see any of these stars unable to seek treatment due to finances.”
Not only are concussions a concern but the rising trend of lower body injuries has also garnered serious notice. Many people remarked on a dramatic increase in ACL injuries during this past 2013 season. There is a lot of speculation if this could be part-and-parcel of playing in the NFL or is it a product of athletes using different tactics to take down competing players (Why A.C.L. Injuries Sideline So Many Athletes, Well, August 28, 2013)?
The new crown of the helmet hits rule, passed in early 2013 and means no players can use the crown of their helmet to hit other players outside of the tackle box or more than three yards downfield. Those who do will invoke a penalty for their team. Video footage has been examined for many of the ACL injuries that occurred over this last season and the vast majorities are non-contact but the rising trend is still cause for concern (Tuck Rule Gone, Helmet Rule Approved, ESPN, March 20, 2013).
The best thing NFL hopefuls can do is take out individual disability insurance policies and they can either do this outside the NCAA or if they go through the NCAA they are limited to a $5 million policy. If they suffer from a career-ending injury, they’ll be covered no matter what the injury is. Think of Jadeveon Clowney, defensive back at USC, or Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. Both are reported to have purchased a $5 million policy and a $10 million policy, respectively (Jadeveon Clowney Insures Health, ESPN, March 8, 2013).
USC receiver Marqise Lee also took out a $10 million disability insurance policy with a loss of value provision on the chance he might fall in the April 2014 draft. He ended up being signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars and is now set if he experiences a career-ending injury- (Marqise Lee Takes out $10 Million Insurance Policy, Sporting News, August 29, 2013).
“As always, there will be restrictions when policies are purchased through an organization but that is why individual policies are so beneficial. Even the NFL’s health insurance only lasts five years after retirement, leaving players whose injuries develop years down the road with limited options. When athletes purchase individual policies, whether it is health insurance or disability insurance, they have the ability to choose the amount of coverage as well as the amount of time they want coverage for. For all you aspiring NFL athletes, I recommend getting in touch with a disability insurance expert now so you can be prepared for life as a pro-athlete,” says Darras.
Revised Settlement Agreement – June 25, 2014 Case 2:12-md-02323-AB Document 6073-2 Filed 06/25/14
Motion for Preliminary Approval – June 25, 2014 Case 2:12-md-02323-AB Document 6073-5 Filed 06/25/14