Former NFL Players: Disabilities, Benefits, and Related Issues

In 2008, the Congressional Research Service prepared a report for members of Congress entitled – Former NFL Players: Disabilities, Benefits and Related Issues.   

Even though the report is somewhat dated, it still has some very important information that is relevant to the problems and issues that retired players are facing today. I encourage everyone to review the document. 

The entire report can be seen at this link:  CRS Report.  Please feel free to post your comments regarding the report.  

For those of you that don’t have time to read the full document, at least read the article on page 86 entitled: Is There a Subset of Former Players with Exceptional Needs?  They could have given it the title “A Case for Improving the Disability and Pension Plan for Older Retired NFL Players.”   

To give you an idea of what is in the report, here are the contents, including the page number where the information on a specific topic can be found.  

Introduction 1
The Game of Football and the Health of Players 4
Introduction 4
The Nature of the Game of Football 5
Health Problems 12
NFL and NFLPA Benefit Programs and Plans 18
History of Benefits 18
How Benefits Are Funded 24
Benefits for Former Players 28
NFLPA Retired Players Department 40
Players Assistance Trust (PAT) Fund 41
The Alliance 45
Other Efforts to Aid Former Players 48
Selected Organizations and Websites 48
Active Players’ Efforts 49
NFL and NFLPA Health and Safety Initiatives 50
NFL Injury and Safety Panel 50
NFL Cardiovascular Health Committee 51
NFL Medical Research Grants 52
NFL Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee 52
NFL and NFLPA Education Efforts for Players 54
NFLPA Medical Consultant and Performance Consultant 55
NFL and NFLPA Joint Committee on Player Safety and Welfare 56
Discussion of Selected Issues 58
Injuries and Financial Considerations 58
Selected Challenges for Some Retired Players 74
Total and Permanent (T&P) Disability Benefit 76
Is There a Subset of Former Players with Exceptional Needs? 86
What Is Known about Injuries and Possible Long-Term Consequences? 92
Studies on Possible Long-Term Effects of MTBI 92
Susceptibility to an Additional MTBI 97
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) 98
NFL’s Approach to MTBI 104
Funding for the Retirement Plan 110
What Is the Extent of the NFLPA’s Capacity? 112
Medical Care for Active Players 113
Access to Medical Records 113
Arrangements for Medical Care and Treatment 114
Workers’ Compensation 118
Possible Courses of Action 119
NFLPA’s Suggestions for Legislative Action 119
Establish Federal Standards for Workers’ Compensation 120
Permit Unions to Manage Their Benefit Plans 120
Eliminate the Requirement for the Disability Initial Claims Committee (DICC) 121
Other Suggestions 122
Mitigation of Economic Risk 122
Independent Studies 123
Data: Collection, Quality, and Access 124
Establish an Ombudsman Office 126
Concluding Observations 126
Appendix A. Glossary 128
Appendix B. NFL and NFLPA Studies Concerning Players’ Health 134
Appendix C. Members of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee 136
Retired Player Study Investigators 138
MTBI Committee 138
Retired Player Study Investigators 139
Appendix D. Acronyms 141
List of Tables  
Table 1. The NFL’s Major Television Rights Contracts, 2006-2013 1
Table 2. Number of Players Listed on the NFL’s Injury Report, 2007 Season 7
Table 3. NFL Players’ Injuries by Type of Injury, 1997-1999 9
Table 4. Selected NFL-NFLPA Benefits as of October 2007 30
Table 5. Players Assistance Trust Fund Grants, by Grant Type, 1991-2007 43
Table 6. Players Assistance Trust Fund Grants, by Year, 1991-2007 43
Table 7. NFL Charities’ Grants for Research Related to Players’ Health, 2003-2007 53
Table 8. Signing Bonuses Among NFL Players, 1993-1997 64
Table 9. Signing Bonuses Among NFL Players, 1998-2002 66
Table 10. Signing Bonuses Among NFL Players, 2003-2007 68
Table 11. Range of Percentage of Total Players Who Received a Signing Bonus by Amount 70
Table 12. Total and Permanent Disability Payments by Category 78
Table 13. Selected Criteria for Football Degenerative and Inactive Categories 80
Table 14. Effect of 15-Year Threshold on Eligibility for “Football Degenerative” Benefits 81
Table 15. Number of Players Who Are Receiving or Have Received T&P Benefits as of 10/23/07 83
Table 16. Benefits Available to Players 89
Table 17. Recipients of NFL Charities Grants for MTBI and Related Research, 2003-2007 106





About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on January 31, 2011, in NFL Alumni News. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Former NFL Players: Disabilities, Benefits, and Related Issues.

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