An Illinois state senate bill threatening to end workers' compensation for pro athletes over the age of 35 could put the Chicago Bears in a precarious position.
According to CBS Chicago's Chris Emma, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said Friday he will tell free agents not to sign with the Bears if the bill passes:
I will tell you from the bottom of my heart that this union will tell every potential free agent player, if this bill passes, to not come to the Bears. Because, think about it, if you’re a free agent player and you have an opportunity to go play somewhere else where you can get lifetime medical for the injury you’re going to have, isn’t a smarter financial decision to go to a team where a bill like this hasn’t passed?
Smith also suggested members of Bears ownership are pushing the bill, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Jim Owczarski. Smith specifically cited the McCaskey family, which owns the Bears, as proponents of the bill, per Emma.
The proposed law centers on eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, and the bill's text includes a section that would directly affect athletes.
According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin's Sarah Mansur, "a small provision buried in a reform bill discussed by a Senate committee this week would change the workers' compensation law to end disability benefits for professional athletes at age 35."
"Its only effect is to hurt people who get hurt for a living,” Smith said, per Emma. "It's just cheapness. It's just being cheap."