Though it’s the off-season, the New Orleans Saints are still embroiled in a tough challenge. This time though, it’s not on the football field, but inside a courthouse.
This week, a Louisiana Senate labor committee just barely sided with Tom Benson, the owner of the New Orleans Saints and advanced a bill to the full senate that would codify the way professional athletes in Louisiana have their wages calculated. Instead of basing workers’ compensation benefits on average weekly earning over the entire year, the calculated benefits would be based on weekly earning at the time the injury was incurred.
What’s surprising about Benson’s stance is that the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and many of his own players, including star quarterback Drew Brees, vocally oppose the bill. Representing the NFLPA, former NFL players testified earlier at the Louisiana State Capitol, claiming that this bill would unjustly reduce the amount of injury benefits Louisiana players would receive during the offseason.
“In my life, I’ve had five surgeries,” Brees said, offering a simple explanation for his opposition to a bill his own team supports.“And it’s all been because of the game of football.”
Republican representative Barrow Peacock was one politician to question the debate over the bill, asking if wealthy NFL stars really even needed workers compensation.
“I feel like y’all are fighting over a small amount of money…for someone who makes a lot of money.”
However, Drew Brees does raise a point:
“We put ourselves at … great risk every time we step on the field, every time we step in the weight room and as we train.”
While the star wouldn’t be willing to trade his 14-year career for anything, understanding that injuries are just a natural part of the game, he did also add, “One thing that’s just nonnegotiable is worker’s compensation and player health and safety.