This is the NFL’s most self-congratulating weekend, which is quite considerable given the other 51 weeks of the year. But between the Super Bowl (is there a single American rooting for Team Trump outside of New England and the White House?) and the Hall of Fame announcement tonight, this is the peak of the year for the NFL. So I was surprised to hear of this attack on the Chicago Bears’ players in the Illinois state legislature.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith says he will tell potential free agents not to sign with the Chicago Bears should new Illinois Senate Bill 12 SA #2 pass.
The bill would adjust the Workers’ Compensation Act as it applies to professional athletes, who potentially are entitled to a wage differential award. The new bill would look to eliminate those athletes from being eligible for wage differential awards after age 35.
The law currently allows players to get paid for the term of their natural life which is set at 67 years old. Those wanting change contend pro athletes seldom play beyond age 35 so paying them until 67 because of injury is unfair and expensive.
“I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free-agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears,” Smith told 670 The Score in Chicago. “Because, think about it, if you’re a free-agent player and you have an opportunity to go play somewhere else where you can get lifetime medical for the injury you’re going to have, isn’t a smarter financial decision to go to a team where a bill like this hasn’t passed?”
If I was a Bears fan (and thank the higher powers that be that I am not), I would be freaking out right now. All of a sudden, Cleveland and Buffalo would be more attractive destinations for players than Chicago. What the heck is behind this?
Smith told the Spiegel & Parkins Show on Friday that the bill is being pushed by the McCaskey family which owns the Bears.
“We join the four other major professional Chicago teams in monitoring and supporting changes to the system that protect athletes’ rights under the workers’ compensation system while acknowledging athletes are not competing professionally until age 67,” the Bears responded in a statement released to 670 The Score. “Nothing in the wage differential language under consideration impacts the right for any athlete to receive just compensation for partial or permanent injury, medical benefits or to file a claim itself.”
Ah, the McCaskey family. Virginia McCaskey’s personal wealth was $1.3 billion in 2014. The team itself was worth $1.7 billion in that same year. So you can see why the family would intervene to destroy the health care of their players. There’s always another ivory backscratcher to purchase. I’m sure Roger Goodell will be intervening to say the NFL completely opposes this horrible bill right away. Because if there’s one thing about Goodell, he truly cares about the safety of the players….