The NFL Failed Former Pro Bowl Fullback LeRon McClain

Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August 5, 2009

Former Pro Bowl NFL fullback LeRon McClain took to Twitter the last few days to plead for help with concussion issues. McClain issued a series of tweets describing great amounts of physical pain and anxiety he has suffered as a result of the concussions he received while playing in the NFL.

McClain had to use Twitter to ask for help due to paperwork issues at the NFL.

The former Pro Bowl fullback begging and pleading for help with his concussion symptoms due to the NFL’s bureaucratic incompetence reveals that the NFL treats its former players like garbage. The fact that a prominent retired player has to take to Twitter for medical help due to an administrative error from the NFL is shameful.

The truth is the NFL does a terrible job of treating their former players compared to the NBA. In 2017, The National Basketball Players Association voted unanimously to fund lifelong healthcare for all retirees who played for at least three years. The NFL, which only provides health insurance to retired players for five years after their career, pales in comparison.

Former NFL running back Clinton Portis explained why this is a problematic system: “It’s just unfortunate that guys’ insurance runs out after five years. That’s normally how long it takes you to accept or admit that you have an issue! By that time, it’s something financial or career-changing that’s happened, and most guys can’t afford it!”

Seventy-eight percent of NFL players experience financial stress two years after retirement. The NFL knows those statistics and still chooses a healthcare plan for their players that runs out just when their problems start to get worse. 

These players are laying their bodies on the line and risking serious injuries to please fans and billionaire owners. But when the players need help after they’re done playing, the institution that they sacrificed so much for is nowhere to be found. 

As the NFL continues to lose former plays to suicide like Hall of Famer Junior Seau, they still aren’t taking concrete steps to protect their players from injury. The organization’s priorities lie solely in profits, and their stars’ physical and mental healths are set aside. 

Hopefully, McClain gets the help he deserves and the league steps in and does the right thing. But if the NFL doesn’t learn from this and doesn’t rethink their health care plans for former players, more players like McClain may have to take to social media to plead for help.

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