“With a denial rate of almost 60%, the NFL’s disability board’s stats rival that of the the Federal Social Security Disability system,” notes Herndon Virginia injury and workers comp lawyer Doug Landau. Following the heart-breaking series in the Washington Post, Landau was struck at the high incidence of disabling injury mirrored by the large number of litigated claims. As described by Mel Owens, a former NFL player who is now a California lawyer, “The NFL is in the hurt business. In workers comp they will end up paying for the players’ brains, hearts and livers, as well as orthopedic injuries ,and it’s expensive. But they [the league owners] don’t want to pay at all.” The NFL Players Association has accused the league of systematically opposing players’ workers compensation claims across the country.
Locally, experienced workers comp lawyers note that the NFL team owner’s Modus Operandi is to contest claims; often bringing team doctors and trainers to testify against the disabled players. In light of these facts and the great disparity between the players who have contracts that provide for long-term medical care as compared to those whose careers were shorter or less generous, lawyer Landau suggests that a larger fund for future medical care should be something that every team and player contributes to inn proportion to their profits, salary and bonuses. Otherwise, the burden of caring for these former “Monday Night Football” heroes will fall to the Federal Social Security Disability System or charitable organizations.