You might've wondered at some point in the past umpteen seasons of watching NFL football, Hey, who pays for the chronic and perhaps debilitating injuries these players are doubtlessly incurring? The Washington Post has your answer: Probably not the teams, possibly the taxpayer and, quite likely, no one.
The latest installment in the paper's "Do no harm" series on the NFL's medical culture relies on grizzly anecdotes to move its narrative — none more stark than that of Reggie Williams, the revered former Bengals linebacker, whose 24 knee surgeries have left him with a right leg 3 inches shorter than his left. But the pith of the report is in hard figures. For instance, the league's disability board rejects players' claims at a rate of 60 percent. The league is fighting some 3,000 workers' comp claims by players who have filed in states (primarily California) with worker-friendly laws. Statutes of limitations in other states can often be too brief (five years, say) to reflect the long-term effects, such as arthritis and joint failure, that come from smashing bodies for a living. And players who go looking for insurance on the open market can't get coverage for old injuries.
Then there's the quote by the disability lawyer in Atlanta who says "Medicare has become their insurance." There are 18,000 former NFL players. We paid to watch them hurt one another. Now we're paying to patch them up into their middle age.
Photo credit of the Titans' Zach Brown: Getty