Brees, NFLPA oppose workers comp legislation

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

BATON ROUGE -- The New Orleans Saints and the team's star quarterback Drew Brees are at odds over a bill currently before the Louisiana Legislature. The proposal deals with how workers compensation benefits should be calculated for injured players.

 

Brees sent out a tweet saying, "Don't get involved in politics often, but fighting 4 my teammates and Louisiana workers. Say no to bill 1069."

The bill by Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond passed out of the Louisiana House this week. It calculates workers comp benefits for injured athletes, based on earnings at the time of the injury. Brees and the NFL Players Association believe benefits should be based on future earnings.

"Our union exists to protect the rights that are constantly under attack, by owners who don't need the money, but they simply want the money," said NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

"When we know that this bill is being pushed by the Saints, to limit workers compensation benefits that are provided for under our CBA, what conclusion are we left with."

Broadwater, the former top officer at the state Office of Workers Compensation says professional athletes should be treated like any other worker in the state.

"If someone is working at Best Buy, selling TVs and they get paid by the hour plus commission and they get hurt in October, we don't say well, they might have sold a lot of TVs in December and then come up with a number of what might have happened in the future," said Broadwater.

Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero voted against the measure saying the bill would disregard existing contracts held by NFL players.

"If you're injured during the time frame that contracts in place, you cannot fulfill your contract, so you have a loss of earning capacity," said Connick.

Broadwater admits he's discussed his bill with Saints officials.

"Do I believe that the Saints organization supports what I'm doing, yes I do believe they do," said Broadwater. "I never got a phone call from Tom Benson asking me to file this bill."

Louisiana courts are split on how to calculate workers comp benefits for pro athletes.

"I think the courts, six out of seven times have gotten it right and have ruled in a way that is consistent with a way that we treat all other workers in Louisiana," said Broadwater.

"I know the 4th Circuit has ruled one way, saying you have to look at the contract and looked at the loss of earning capacity," said Connick. "Other courts have ruled otherwise. The proper thing to do now, is let the Supreme Court decide when's there's a split between the circuits."

Meanwhile, the NFLPA is asking fans and players to get involved.

"Starting today we will be engaged in a massive effort, as we have done before to fight legislation that hurts our players," said Smith. "We're going to ask our current players to weigh in on the fight about why an owner wants to hurt the benefits that are lawfully entitled to our players."

The bill now moves over to the Senate side where it will likely come up in committee next Thursday.

 

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