We have spent the last few days pontificating, analyzing, and debating the Damar Hamlin situation on social media. Hell, the entire world shifted focus almost immediately to Skip fucking Bayless. But through all that white noise and banter we all somehow missed the most important point: The NFL does not give two shits about its players, especially former ones.
As Bernie Kosar once said, "They're just waiting for us to die."
It's a long video so let me break it down real quick. Garrett Bush, one of the hosts of the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show, passionately illuminated the part that the NFL wishes would stay in the dark. Here are some of the key points.
- Hamlin's has only been in the NFL two years, which means he isn't vested. That means if never plays another down in his life he never gets another check from the NFL.
- The disability policy in the NFL was changed from $22,000/month to $4,000/month in that last CBA negotiations.
- The NFL has a private board that reviews all disability claims IN ADDITION to the government approving a player a player for disability.
- They can deny your benefits even if social security deems you to be permanently disabled.
- Only 15% of applicants get approved for disability by social security and the league says the number should be lower.
- Since the CTE settlement, only 6.5% of the settlement has been paid out.
- 60% of CTE claims have a qualifying diagnosis but have not been paid.
- Even if he did qualify for a pension, he would have to get to 55 years old to get paid (Hamlin is 24 years old).
- They have reduced the pension from $5,600/month to $3000/month.
Now you may be saying to yourself, "So what. These guys choose to play a violent sport, they know the risks. And $3,000 per month is plenty to live off, hell that's about what I make at my job!"
And to that I would say, no matter how great you are at fantasy football you are still not an NFL athlete that repeatedly slams their body into a wall for nine months a year. And no one pays to watch you do your job. So they probably deserve a little more money than you. And yeah, they know the risks but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be paid for the repercussions of those risks if/when they happen.
The NFL has reported generated $28 BILLION in profits over the last two seasons. And how was all that profit made? By having guys "who know the risks" slam into each other at 20+ mph over and over again for our entertainment.
I'm not some tree hugging hippie who thinks we should ban contact sports for youth and try to eliminate football. Quite the contrary, I enjoy a monster hit just as much as the next guy. But just because there are assumed risks at your job doesn't mean you should be on your own to take care of their byproduct if they come to fruition.
For example: If you work in a factory with dangerous machinery and you get injured you will almost assuredly get disability. If you drive for a living and get into an accident, guess what? As long as you weren't drunk or stoned to bejesus then you are going to be taken care of. The business knows the risk just like you and they have built those potential costs into their insurance and business plans.
NFL player contracts should be guaranteed because the NFL's profits are guaranteed through TV contracts. Simple and plain. But that's not how it goes at all. In fact, while these guys are laying in a hospital bed, or struggling to walk down stairs, or god forbid murder someone because their brain has turned to scrambled eggs, old Rog and his merry band of evil owners are twerking on top of a giant pile of cash.
And if you think it's just me and Garrett who feel this way you should see how many current and former NFL players agree…
And this is just a tiny sampling, there are literally hundreds more.
So then why don't you hear other shows like Undisputed and First Take talking about this? Because the traditional media outlets need to suckle the teat of the NFL to make sure they have access and TV rights.
Absolutely amazing stuff from Garett Bush. And a proud papa moment for me as he was an intern of mine at ESPN Cleveland for a short time. Although I can assure you he learned absolutely nothing from me that would help him with a rant this pertinent and heartfelt. Give him a follow on Twitter @Gbush91