Ex-NFL Players Filing for Workers’ Comp: What Do You Think?


No matter what industry you’re in, a sudden filing of workers’ compensation claims by 38 employees at once might be a quick way to shift your attention to safety concerns.

At least that is what a group of former NFL players hoped for back in December when they filed a group federal case to get the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) covered under workers’ compensation benefits. A previous settlement forced the NFL to pay close to a billion dollars to 22,000 former players for brain injuries, but over 200 players opted out, instead, trying their luck in individual cases like this one.

Most experts think the workers’ comp claims are a “Hail Mary,” but it does reflect a growing concern about safety in football. So what are some of the things the NFL is doing to make their work environment safer? Strangely enough, a lot of the same things as those in the manufacturing and construction industries are doing.

Better technology. We’ve talked before about how some manufacturers are using drones to scope out work sites for potential hazards. Similarly, the NFL is also investing in technology for injury prevention. The league has hired Windpact, a small company led by former NFL cornerback Shawn Springs, to develop a special padding system that can absorb and disperse impact, improving the performance of helmets and protective gear.

Better training. We regularly talk about how creating a culture of safety is the cornerstone of on-the-job injury prevention. The NFL is trying to do exactly that for football safety but on a way bigger scale. They’ve invested a great deal of money in “virtual players”, which are motorized tackling machines designed to teach proper technique in youth leagues. The idea is that if proper form is incorporated into learning the sport, it will prevent injuries well into the future.

Better safety incentives. Your facility might offer some kind of incentive or reward program for employees who complete safety training or go a certain amount of time without an injury. For the NFL, the incentives are a little different. For instance, they recently offered an incentive of $10 million to any company that could create a stronger, safer material for helmets. They also offer exposure incentives to startups with ideas for making the game safer for players.

Do you think Ex-NFL players should be entitled to workers compensation for concussions and other brain injuries? Is it the responsibility of the NFL to keep players safe? Or do their high salaries cover the inherent risks? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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