Many retired professional football players face continuing huge medical bills for injuries and serious medical conditions that are a product of the bruising time they spent on the playing field. Many believe that such expenses should be covered by workers compensation or other insurance programs. Many injured or ill former players feel abandoned by their former teams, however.
In one instance, a former NFL player has had no fewer than 24 separate corrective surgical procedures on his knees, and despite it all, still has to use a crutch when he walks. His leg, he feels, is an unsightly mess, and one leg is three inches shorter than the other.
While he played professional football for over 14 years, his ongoing medical problems are not currently covered by any form of insurance. Besides the knee replacement surgeries, he suffered an infection in his bones. He estimates his medical expenses have continually mounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Despite all that, he has been unable to qualify for disability benefits offered by the NFL. The team he spent his professional career playing for, at considerable harm to his body and life, is vehemently opposing him on a filed workers compensation claim. His situation is hardly unique, and statistics show that as many as 25 percent of all NFL retirees will need joint replacement surgery.
Additionally, such retirees suffer 500 percent more arthritis than other people. With the average professional football players' career lasting only three or four years, many injures and medical conditions are only discovered long after players are retired from the game. The resistance of the teams to paying medical bills requires the players to continue, with the assistance of their attorneys, to press forward with their claims.
Source: theoaklandpress.com, "Who should bear the costs of retired NFL players' medical bills?" Sally Jenkins and Rick Maese, May. 12, 2013