NFL commissioner Roger Goodell faced plenty of difficult questions at his annual “State of the NFL” press conference on Friday, but he probably did not anticipate that one of them would come from a current player. San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, reporting on behalf of Monday Morning Quarterback, made the commish’s job a little tougher.
After some friendly banter back and forth, Davis asked Goodell why NFL players have to “jump through loops” for health benefits after retirement. A video of the exchange can be seen over at Deadspin.
“We had lots of discussions about that in the collective bargaining agreement process,” Goodell told Davis. “We went back and improved a lot of our health benefits both for former players and current players, to the point where I think the benefits provided to current NFL players are the best in the world.”
That may be true, but NFL players are only guaranteed coverage for five years after they retire. MLB players receive health coverage for life as soon as they land on an active MLB roster. You would think the NFL would do the same, given the health risks involved with playing football.
“We all still have a lot of work to do for former players,” Goodell added. “The cost of trying to provide health care for every player who has ever played in the league was discussed with the union. It was determined that these changes are the best changes, and that’s what we negotiated.”
Goodell then pointed out that there are programs available to players with neurological disorders and their families for their entire lives. He then went on to the next question and likely made himself a mental note to give Davis some s— later on.