Just days before the start of free agency, the NFLPA is accusing the Cincinnati Bengals ownership of attacking players’ rights to worker’s compensation in the state of Ohio through the introduction language into the state legislature; however, the context behind the claim is lacking.
“In a move that could impact our entire membership, @Bengals ownership is attempting to strip all athletes in Ohio of their workers’ compensation benefits”, the official NFLPA Twitterr account Tweeted last night. Multiple sources provided what the e-mail sent to NFLPA members actually enclosed.
In short, the e-mail begins by highlighting the language that the ownership—led of course by Mike Brown—is seeking to adopt. “Athletes who are under contract to play for a professional athletic team are not eligible to file for or receive a permanent partial disability award under this section”, it reads.
There is no mention of in what this language is included or the broader context of that legislation. On the surface, it doesn’t sound great, and seems as though it could apply to all athletes in the state, not just in the NFL.
Many online have suggested that the Bengals are seeking to shift from a state-run insurance program for their players to a privately-run one that they could shop around. Perhaps that is the case, though as of the time of this writing I have not read anything substantial to that effect beyond Tweets from nobody with particularly notable credibility.
However, as many have also pointed out, the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement does provide that all franchises operating in a state that do not mandate their own state-run workers’ compensation programs must provide an equitable program of their own for their players.
Without knowing more about what this legislation is and what it could mean, however, it is difficult to say more. I’m no politician nor have experience in the medical field in any capacity. I’m not a lawyer, either. I just write words about football.
According to the e-mail shared by Tanya O’Rourke above, the player’s union also claims that the unspecified legislation “would prevent any injured professional athlete from pursuing their workers’ compensation rights to future medical treatment or compensation”. The claim is also made that it would have any claims “expire five years from the date of their work-related injury”.
Needless to say, more context must be provided on both sides before we (or at least I) can make much of heads or tails of all this. But the CBA says what it says regarding what is required of teams in service to their players when it comes to workers’ compensation. But it’s not as though the NFL doesn’t have a history of trying to get around their promises.