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From the Wife of a Disabled NFL Player

March 9, 2020

Dear Advocacy for Fairness in Sports,

This email is my response to this article about NFL CBA disability

Thank you for writing this article. As the wife of a disabled  NFL  player, I appreciate the breakdown of article 60. Our family’s income and livelihood is dependent on TP benefits and SSDi. When we were qualifying for our first home less than 2 yrs ago, the NFL wrote a letter to verify our income. They verified the amount received was for life. Unbeknownst to us and the mortgage bank, “life” only meant till the end of the current CBA.

As the soul caregiver to my husband and young children (ages 9,3, and 4 months old), I fear that I will need to go to work. I’m not afraid to work as I have worked for years before my husband became disabled. I fear leaving my children in daycare all day (which will eat most of my paycheck and the thought of them being raised by a stranger is scary). I fear leaving my permanently disabled husband alone. We can not afford to hire a private nurse or put him in daycare and he was deemed incapable of safely caring for our children for long periods.  This leaves me with the choice to sell our home, uproot from the community and support team we have, live in an apartment (which will be hard as my husband has episodes that are scary and disruptive), and go to work. Leaving my husband alone and my children in daycare.

Yes, that’s what we are facing with the reduction of $30,000/yr ($2,500/month). It may seem so insignificant to those currently playing and to the billionaire owners. But this is real and it will hurt players and their families. Financial stress, depression, unmet medical needs, etc are all factors that may increase a disabled persons symptoms.  Why isn’t there a “grandfather” clause? If a player was awarded TP before receiving SSDI, why does the NFL have the right to know about SSDI amounts? What about the undefined “whole person” health check that is mentioned? Will it be like the concussion case where the rules and definitions are constantly changing to deny benefits? When the NFL wrote the income verification letter stating TP amount was guaranteed for life, did they lie and can they be held accountable legally?

I know I’m not alone as I’ve chatted with other NFL wives whose husbands are older, some receiving LOD, TP, and plan 88. We feel helpless as there are no current players or NFLPA reps fighting for the disabled. Emails sent by the wives to the NFLPA have either been unanswered or the response has been that the new CBA will benefit the older guys because they get a HRA of $50k. The NFL and NFLPA are cutting funds from the most underfunded, underrepresented, and vulnerable group of players…the disabled. Current players, are not being educated about Article 60 which effects them too. The amount spent on the Legends program made the NFL look like they cared about the older players. When all the while the NFLPA and the NFL are willing to quietly bury their disabled instead of caring for them.

Thank you again for shedding light on this time sensitive issue. We pray that the voting NFL members realize how defunct and horrific this CBA is for current and past players.

The wife of a disabled NFL player

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