NFL Helmet Rules Impacting Futures and Careers of Players
Nearly every week, another NFL player is out for the season due to an ACL tear. The latest casualty is New England Patriot tight end, Rob Gronkowski. According to Yahoo Sports, Gronkowski was carted off the field in the third quarter against the Browns with a serious knee injury. He was taken to the hospital and has reportedly suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee that will end his season. In addition he also suffered a concussion from the T.J. Ward hit in Sunday’s Week 14 win over Cleveland. (Yahoo.com, Rob Gronkowski Latest Victim of NFL Rule Changes, December 9, 2013)
Disability lawyer to the pros, Frank N. Darras has been watching this record season of ACL and MCL injuries and said as early as October, “As the game of football changes, and the new helmet rules affecting how players are hit could explain why there are staggering numbers of ACL injuries this season.Throw in Meriweather’s comment and that alone, should give all players a good reason to think about what their lives would be like if their incomes, financial security, endorsements and notoriety end in a snap and they never play again. It does happen and players should be prepared now, and the warning signs are in the data, the history books and on the injured reserve lists,” says Darras. (New York Times, Why A.C.L. Injuries Sideline So Many Athletes, August 28. 2013)
Darras was referring to Redskins wide receiver Brandon Meriweather who had been flagged twice for personal fouls against the Chicago Bears and the following Monday, Meriweather was suspended by the NFL for two games. Personal fouls are expensive and these cost him $141,176 – and the Redskins lost their starter against the Denver Broncos in the next game.
In an interview with USA Today, after missing the game against the Broncos, Meriweather went public with his plans for changing his playing style saying:
“I guess I’ve just got to take people’s knees out. I’d hate to end a guy’s career over a rule, but I guess it’s better (for something to happen to) other people than me getting suspended for longer,” he told reporters in the Redskins locker room. “You’ve just got to go low now. You’ve got to end people’s career. You’ve got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees now. You can’t hit ’em high anymore.” (USA Today, Brandon Meriweather plans to tackle future opponents low, hits Brandon Marshall even lower, October 28, 2013)
While DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA Executive Director released an official statement on safety Brandon Meriweather, October 30, 2013, essentially apologizing for what Meriweather said. Today, Meriweather’s words may have been the most accurate reflection of how pro football has to be played, with the new NFL Rules in place. Just look at the injuries this season, no wonder MMQB calls 2013: the Year of the Injury. (USA Today, Brandon Meriweather hears from NFL, union over comments, October 21, 2013)
“I have seen players who have not prepared, who put off having that critical conversation about disability insurance coverage with their agents or financial advisors. It is heartbreaking to see a defensive tackle sit across from me trying to figure out how he is going to pay the bills and feed his children after a career-ending injury,” says Darras. “Yes, there may be workers compensation, but many of those claims are denied, and if approved, pale in comparison to individual career ending coverage.
In an instant, not having disability insurance coverage and sustaining a career-ending injury will put the kibosh on a player’s dreams of making it big and being set for life, says Darras.
“My million dollar advice: Individual disability insurance policies can be written to cover the profession an athlete competes in. Now is the time to sit down with the best and most trusted insurance expert or agent and get solid guidance and secure your future income, regardless of what happens on the field,” says Darras.
Disability insurance is the financial lifeline for athletes regardless of their sport and it provides income protection should any athlete sustain an injury that destroys their ability to earn an income. Regardless of your record, youth and invincibility, decide now, to have that critical conversation today and get expert guidance to protect your future, says Darras.