I love watching football. Love it. I’m a big Bears fan and growing up I learned a lot of my work ethic from watching Walter Payton train by running up and down hills over and over. When it came time to work out in high school sports and I didn’t know what to do, I just ran hills because if it was good enough for the best running back ever, it was good enough for me.
But we now know that there are more dangers to football other than broken bones, destroyed backs and torn up ligaments. Concussions have destroyed the lives of thousands of players including the Bears only Super Bowl winning quarterback, Jim McMahon. My kids love football, but there is no chance I’d let them play even though their sport of choice (soccer) leads to concussions too. They can choose to not head the ball in soccer, but you can’t choose not to tackle in football or collide with others.
The problem for a lot of these players is that they have trouble getting the medical care that they need, especially the ones that didn’t make or save any money. So they can’t get treatment that they need. Yesterday a Federal Judge rejected the $765 million concussion settlement as she has questions as to whether it will have enough money to cover treatment for 20,000 players, both present and in the future. I agree with her concerns and think there is a better solution.
If I could speak with the NFLPA (players’ union) I’d tell them that just about every player should file a workers’ compensation claim the day that they retire. Although many concussions happen from a singular hit, there is medical evidence that the totality of all the hits they take in a career causes the long term problems.
So it may be that the day you call it quits you don’t have the classic signs of concussion problems such as memory loss, irritability, headaches, etc, but the problem is a ticking time bomb in your brain.
The problem is that in Illinois, all workers’ compensation claims have to be filed within three years of the accident date. In this case, that would be the date of their last game or practice. If that happened in Illinois or a concussion is readily identifiable in Illinois then they can bring their case here.
If I were to represent any of these players, I’d tell them that we are taking their case before an Arbitrator. If we did that, then they would keep their medical rights open for life as relates to their head trauma. In other words, if they find themselves in 20 years needing a nurse to take care of them, they’ll have the billionaires in the NFL there to pay for it. Same if they need to go in a nursing home or if a surgery pops up that could fix or improve their condition.
This wouldn’t be a big money make for lawyers or the players, but it would be a huge security blanket for the players and their families if anything happened to them in the future. It’s unfortunately too late for the older generation of players who need this most, but it’s not too late for the guys suiting up now.
Note that this isn’t a lawsuit as nobody is saying now that the dangers of concussions aren’t known. In fact, this is the opposite as I am saying that players need to get a case on file given the likelihood that something will happen to them some day. If in 20 years your doctor says that your brain trauma is from your old job, wouldn’t you want to be covered too.
This logic can probably be extended further to include knee injuries, back problems or anything else that came up during playing days.
But nothing is more important in your body than your brain. So anything these players can do for themselves to make sure that they get the care they need is just a good move.
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