NFL Players to Look for Lifetime Health Care Coverage

December 22, 2004 ( - National Football League players are asking their union to get them lifetime health care benefits in their next contract.

Bloomberg reported that with the league’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire in 2008, post-retirement health care has come to the forefront of player demands. The league wants to have a new agreement in place by February.

This is not surprising, since career-ending injuries are up 20% from only four years ago, Bloomberg reported. NFL players are the lowest paid of all four major sports league players – pulling in an average of $1.3 million annually – and are concerned about paying medical bills that could last a lifetime. Currently, players who spend three years in the NFL receive medical and dental insurance for five years after retirement, according to Bloomberg. The three other large leagues do not offer such care.

The player’s union, led by executive director Gene Upshaw, has the approach of getting more compensation, then delivering health care to union members. “The bottom line is that the league is making a lot of money,'” Ryan Kuehl, a player representative for the New York Giants, told Bloomberg. “Let’s send our guys into retirement with the confidence that if they need a new knee or hip, they won’t have to mortgage their homes to pay for it.”

League representative Harold Henderson opposes such a strategy, instead saying that money should be shifted from salaries to health care coverage. He does not want the total amount going to players to increase from its current level of 65% of teams’ total revenue, according to Bloomberg.