VICE series on NFL players post-career medical benefits or lack thereof

VICE has a new series of articles about the NFL, it’s players, and the problems many of them have securing adequate benefits to combat medical and neurological conditions that are the result of years of massive, violent stresses they undergo as football players; Battle For Benefits, Part 1 was just published online today.

The more I know about professional sports and even college and high school sports, the less I like them and the less I watch. Even my formerly-beloved basketball isn’t immune; I no longer pay attention to March Madness as tho it were the only thing on the planet of importance. In fact, last year I think I watched only 4 college basketball games and only 3 college football games (zero pro games for both sports, btw).

This VICE article is another indictment of a system that uses and abuses people and then expects other’s to pay for their profits, much like the US military-industrial complex or the US banking system.

How much longer will the NFL continue to exist as more and more of these types of issues come to light? In the internet age, there’s always a camera watching, always a blogger taking note of things, always an audience, however small, so that things aren’t so easily swept under the rug as they were before. Kudos to VICE, to Peter Landesman (director of the film Concussion) and others who bring these deplorable situations some much needed scrutiny.

Did they only discuss what has happened in the past? From what I have heard the health care for former players is now light years ahead of where it used to be. The player’s union fought for that.

No, they discuss that and to a large extent how it is failing recently-retired players. The main story is about Kyle Turley, who retired in 2008, and how he was considering shooting himself in the head; instead he called the recently-created suicide line:

That was in 2012; the article goes on to point out that due to his and his friend Shannon Jordan’s complaints, the hotline has improved it’s procedures.

It’s a very good article and I encourage y’all to take 10 minutes or so to read it; there is a lot left untreated and unaddressed by the NFL with respect to the health and well-being of all players, current and former.

Isn’t that true for almost every job in the US?

I’m not a fan of the NFL’s handling of the head trauma issue, and they clearly ignored ex-players for a long time, but I’m having trouble getting my ire up over NFL players having to navigate a bureaucracy to get benefits, having benefits denied, and/or disagreeing with the diagnosis of doctors when that’s true for pretty much every profession in the US. I’m having trouble getting angry over Turley, who gets $120,000 a year in benefits from the article, when there are hundreds of thousands of dock workers, postal carriers, Walmart greeters, and garment workers who have to do the same thing without that kind of money. I’m sure they’d like lifetime health care coverage too.

It probably is, but the vast majority of those jobs don’t cause the health problems that they fail to address.

Why would you say that? I would imagine a vast majority of people doing physical labor, or those suffering from carpal tunnel or other like afflictions, would certainly say their health problems were caused by work. And with somewhere around 55 billion dollars a year paid out in workers compensation, I would think you’re assertion would be tough to prove.

“your” assertion. :smack:

Anentire profession wishes to politely disagree with your assertion.

Part 2 of the VICE series has been posted: George Visger’s Many Lives, detailing this former lineman’s life since he suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing for the SF 49er’s in 1981.

Football players certainly are not alone in finding it difficult to get WC benefits; this extends to pretty much any profession, as far as I know. But most professions don’t have the same likelihood of catastrophic and/or debilitating injury as a full-contact sport.

He and others like him are not helped by the fact that in many respects, the NFLPA functions as a de facto arm of the NFL, not as an advocate for the players.

Visger won his WC case against Travelers and eventually made a new life for himself, one that included a wife, 3 kids and a beautiful home.

He lost it all because of on-going problems caused by his injury.

A few years back, he found a lawyer who said he could help. Together they met with someone hired by Travelers to assess his condition and write a report which would include treatment recommendations. That report was never filed. It was never filed because Travelers told the agent to bury it.

The story is long, and sad, and frustrating to read because all of this human tragedy, all of the waste of George Visger’s life, could have been different, but for the greed of the NFL, Travelers Insurance, and the manipulation of the system by monied interests.

I work in forestry, there are usually about 70 fatalities a year for a profession with a mean annual income of $33,000. Those guys have to work until they are old enough to get SS to just survive. My Dad worked in mining. My friend is a fisherman. I have friends in the construction trades.

I really don’t care about some football player.

I’m sorry that you don’t have room in your heart to have compassion for what some football players go thru.

What are you doing to trying correct the situation in your own industry?

Well I asked for 5 year contracts with 10 million dollar signing bonuses but nobody seems to be taking me seriously.

So, nothing, then? That’s a shame. Situations like the one you describe in your industry can be ameliorated, but it takes willpower and activity. The people best positioned to help are prolly yourself and others in your industry who share your concerns. Have you looked into joining a union or forming one yourself?

The 70 fatalities a year is the ameliorated number, it was worse a decade ago and it was worse the decade before that. That’s exactly what I’m taking about, risk is inherent to any job, no jobs are perfectly safe and many physically demanding jobs are risky. Everyday millions of people make the choice to go to work, in a lot riskier positions and for a lot less pay then a football player.

True, but this series of stories focuses on football players.

Many people can understand the desire to be a professional football player; despite the risks, there is also the potential for great rewards (fame, money, etc.). The series is showing that despite the huge financial rewards for a few, and for the owners of the NFL, the TV stations, etc., many players are left without health care after being “broken” by the sport, cast aside like a broken toy, not a real human being.

The series is also showing that there are people who recognize that this is wrong and are actively working to change that and put support systems and medical care in place for after a player’s career is over. Many are trying to get the union, the NFLPA, to work harder at this, making the argument that current players may one day find themselves needing this same kind of help and care. It shows that people working together can make a difference, even if it takes some time to do so.

In your industry, is there a similar disparity in the financial rewards possible for workers and the risk they take? What steps have you or other workers made to hold the industry accountable for the medical care that a forester might need after he is no longer able to work? Also, what is the average career that a worker might have in your industry?

Maybe they shouldn’t waste their money

Most players can’t afford insurance because they buy ostentatious cars and houses instead of wise investments

Yeah, I worked with radiation for a little over a decade so I got supplemental insurance to help out in case of cancer. I don’t expect the public or my former employer to pay for it. That risk is why I got better pay than your average chemist.

In the coal mining industry

The average income for a coal miner is $82,000 a year

I’m sorry; I thought you indicated that you were in forestry, not mining.

And those numbers certainly sound like they are higher than they need to be, but mining has a long history of exploiting workers. Would you like to discuss the labor movement with respect to mining, and how the success of the movement, bought with the blood and lives of men, women and children, has since been stamped on by the big money that the mining corporations wield?

I’m not sure what bearing that has on what some football players go thru, tho.

Err… aren’t they rich? How is finding medical care a problem for rich people? (and why should anyone give a shit about some rich person’s “plight”?) And if they end up not being rich for some reason, like they were a bad player and/or played only for a short amount of time and/or squandered their riches… can’t they get a regular job with health insurance like anyone else?