Tag Archives: retirement
(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt of a case summary that appeared in the December issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. For this summary and the case citation and many others like it, consider subscribing to the Reporter at https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)
A federal judge has declined to reopen the claim of a former professional football player, who alleged that he was entitled to more disability benefits than he was originally awarded by the NFL’s Retirement Board.
The plaintiff began playing in the NFL in 1995. His 8-year career included stints at multiple teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, and the Atlanta Falcons. After his retirement, he began experiencing health issues, such as anxiety, sleep problems, social withdrawal, headaches, memory loss, and sensitivity to lights. The plaintiff claimed many of the issues were attributable to the head trauma he suffered as an NFL player.
Before beginning its analysis, the court noted that the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (the Plan) provides retirement, disability, and related benefits to eligible players. Under the Plan, players can file applications to receive benefits. The Retirement Board (the Board) administers the Plan and possesses the sole authority to grant or deny players’ applications.
“Once a player files his application, the Board makes an initial determination as to whether the player is totally and permanently disabled,” wrote the court. “If the Board finds that the player is totally and permanently disabled, the player is entitled to total and permanent disability benefits (T & P benefits). However, the amount of money the player receives depends on which of four T& P benefit categories the Board determines is appropriate. The four categories are: Active Football, Active Non-football, Football Degenerative, or Inactive. The latter two categories are relevant here.
“The Plan defines a Football Degenerative injury as a disability that ‘arises out of League football activities, and results in total and permanent disability before fifteen years after the end of the Player’s last Credited Season.’ The Plan provides that the Inactive category applies if ‘(1) the total and permanent disability arises from other than league football activities while the Player is a Vested Inactive Player, or (2) the disability(ies) arises out of League football activities and results in total and permanent disability fifteen or more years after the end of the Player’s last Credited Season.’ Thus, the difference in the two categories is whether or not the player’s injury arose from football activities. Importantly, the minimum benefits for the Football Degenerative category is no less than $4,000 per month while the minimum benefits for the Inactive category is offset by any disability benefits provided by an employer other than the NFL or another employer. Thus, it is financially beneficial for a player to be placed in the Football Degenerative category.”
The player, Corey Robinson, is not just any player. He is the son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson and young man who was just elected the Notre Dame student body president in February. Robinson suffered his third concussion in 12 month during spring practice. After consulting with a neurologist, he made his decision.
“After much contemplation and prayer, I have decided not to continue football due to multiple concussions,” Robinson said in a statement. “I couldn’t have come to this difficult personal decision without the incredible support from so many within the Notre Dame football program. I am extremely thankful to Coach Kelly and his staff for the life-changing opportunity to play football at the greatest University in the world. I will continue to help our team as a student assistant and look forward to a great senior season.”
Head Football Coach Brian Kelly added: “This was an extremely tough decision for Corey. He’s such a committed kid to everything he does–whether its academics, football, community service or campus leadership initiatives–that he wanted to finish four-year career on the field. He was so excited to lead a group of young receiver this fall. While that won’t happen in the manner Corey initially intended, he will remain involved with the program on a day-to-day basis as a student assistant. He sets a remarkable example for all our players–not only how to represent yourself on and off the field, but also how working hard through adversity can lead to tremendous success.”
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland made the right call when he retired from the NFL. Never mind that he was one of the league’s top rookies last year. He knew it was time.
Underpinning his decision was Borland awareness of the great risk he was taking by continuing to play.
We know so much more about concussions than we did five years ago. We know that the tiny hits players can take in youth, high school and college football can add up. More importantly, we know that concussions affect athletes differently.
Borland, 24, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines: “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health. From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”
His decision took a lot foresight, especially since he told the media outlet that he was as “sharp as I’ve ever been. For me, it’s wanting to be proactive. I’m concerned that if you wait ’til you have symptoms, it’s too late. … There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”