On Saturday, October 25, 2014 I heard George Visger, a former San Francisco 49’r, speak about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a panel discussion about the subject at the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners conference in Atlanta. I’ve known George for a few years through the brain injury community where he is a tireless advocate for brain injury and the rights to benefits for injured players. He’s contributed to our blog, NeuroNotes, and had given freely of his time to speak to patients who are struggling with their injuries. George is one of those guys who applied his toughness on the field to facing the challenges of his football related brain injuries and finding time and energy to help others.
A question to George came from a nurse life care planner at the conference and the question was: “what would he ask Roger Goodell who was speaking at the Brain Injury Association of Washington Gala Event?” Not one to mince words, George eloquently explained his personal journey, and posed the following question:
As you well know, I’ve survived 9 NFL caused emergency VP shunt brain surgeries and multiple gran mal seizures since the 1981 Super Bowl season, and was forced to sue for Workers Compensation just to get my medical bills paid for. After 33 years of seizures, brain surgeries, and another current legal battle to get my medical bills paid, I still don’t qualify for any NFL benefits.
In the last 3 years, I’ve lost my home, my business and my marriage of 19 years due to major short term memory issues and cognitive impairment from my NFL injury. Two years ago, I was rated 100% disabled by California Social Security and forced to go out on SSDI. My only benefits are through Social Security and Medicare, which I pay for, while the NFL grossed $9.5 billion last year alone.
My question is this:
“How do you justify your $44 Million dollar per year salary, when 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of us former players cannot qualify for ANY NFL benefits?”
The NFL is doing much to market the settlement as a fair and equitable solution for players living with TBI. I think George’s question sets the record straight on how limited the NFL settlement really is and the vast number of players who are excluded, with George himself in that group. Commissioner Goodell is paid an enormous amount of money by an organization which makes a fortune on the sport of football. I want to know how Roger Goodell will answer the question, don’t you?