NFL Concussions: Former Players' Suits a Slap in the Face to Blue-Collar Workers

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIDecember 26, 2011

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 29:  Jamal Lewis #31 of the Cleveland Browns is tackled by Chris Crocker #42 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Over the last few weeks, we've seen two different suits come against the NFL by former players, who are suing the league over concussion-related issues.

In a sport where head-on collisions happen all the time, former NFL players are trying to find ways to get more money from a league because they believe they didn't do enough to prevent concussions.

In my opinion, this is the biggest farce brought on by former athletes and are a slap in the face to millions of people in America who face dangerous jobs on a daily basis.

Sure, concussions are a major issue and need to be addressed, but my question is, what did these players do with all the money they made while in the league?

Some of the athletes named in the suits are Jamal Lewis, Dorsey Levens, Ryan Stewart, Fulton Kuykendall, Patrick Surtain and Oronde Gadsden. Nineteen other players were named in the suit with Surtain and Gadsden, but their names were not published.

Here's a look at what some of these players made over their careers.

From 2001-2009, Jamal Lewis made a combined salary of $41,018,629. So, that's over $40 million, and yet, none of that money was put aside for his future health. Whose fault is that?

Dorsey Levens (in published salary's from 2000-04) made more than $10 million. Before that, there are no published numbers, but I imagine since he was in the prime of his career in the late 1990s, he likely made at least $1 million each year. So, again, whose fault is it that he didn't save money for his future health?

Patrick Surtain made $44,914,311 from 2000-08. Yet again, another example of a millionaire who didn't prepare himself for the future.

Now, these are extreme examples of three of the players. I'm sure some of the other named players didn't make as much money, but it's still six-figure money each year.

Meanwhile, many people in dangerous jobs in America, go to work every day, knowing the risk and accept it. And, most don't sue over those related risks. And many don't make near the amount of money that NFL players do in a year.

I'll take it even a step further and say that most people don't make in a lifetime what many of these players make in one or two years.

Coal miners face the dangerous conditions of the mines on a daily basis. Thoughts of mine collapses, getting the black lung, etc. face these workers on a daily basis. But, they go to work every day accepting the risks because they need to provide for their family. Many will encounter shorter lives due to the hazardous conditions of the mines.

Construction workers deal with being in high places, working with power equipment, etc. but still go to their job every day. They accept the risk guessed it, they're trying to provide for their family. And, they don't sue for nagging injuries they face the rest of their lives.

In a world where professional athletes make millions of dollars compared to the rest of America that makes in the low-to-mid five-figure range, there's no excuse for these former players suing because they feel the NFL "deliberately omitted or concealed evidence linking concussions and long-term neurological problems."

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 14:  Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers is hit by Patrick Surtain #23 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on December 14, 2008 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

In a recent ESPN article, many players said they were willing to hide head injuries.

As Jacksonville Jaguars' running back Maurice Jones-Drew said, "The bottom line is: You have to be able to put food on the table. No one's going to sign or want a guy who can't stay healthy. I know there will be a day when I'm going to have trouble walking. I realize that. But this is what I signed up for. Injuries are part of the game. If you don't want to get hit, then you shouldn't be playing."

Concussions are something that come with the territory. If you want to be an NFL player, your body is going to be put in harm's way. If you can't accept that fact, then feel free to give back all those millions of dollars you made...most of it that comes from the hard-earned money that the aforementioned blue-collar workers made to watch them.

In the last decade where I've been a soldier in the U.S. Army, a sportswriter and a car detailer at a national used car dealership, I've made less than what the NFL league's minimum is for one year.

So, what is there really to complain about?

Accept the risks of your job or don't do it. It's as simple as that.