About two months ago, two dozen former players appeared at the California state capitol building in Sacramento to protest AB1309, a proposed bill that would disallow out-of-state professional athletes from claiming worker compensation in the state.
The bill by Assemblyman Henry Perea, a Democrat from Fresno, would allow those who play in California to claim the compensation but not anybody who plays for a team from another state. Proponents of the bill say people can abuse the current law by claiming awards elsewhere while also filing claims in California.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady vehemently disagree. In fact, the two teamed up together to co-write an editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle to discuss why the proposed bill “unfairly targets professional athletes.”
“There are players -- real people with real families -- out there who are literally fighting to save their legs and get the medical care they need for the injuries they suffered at work,” Brady and Brees write. “Despite what bill supporters say, California taxpayers are not on the hook for these players' benefits or their care. The bill's author … admits that. In fact, in the NFL and many other pro sports, the cost of workers' compensation is deducted from the players' share of league revenues as agreed through collective bargaining.”
Brady, who was born in San Mateo, and Brees -- the former Chargers quarterback -- report that the NFL's salary cap was reduced by $64 million last year “to cover the costs of the teams' workers' compensation premiums.” They also write that those who play pro sports gave nearly $200 million in taxes in 2011 on the income they earned while playing in California.
And they have a few allies, including the California Labor Federation and the Consumer Attorneys of California. Both organizations say that some injuries suffered by athletes won't be recognizable until many years later. Since that's the case, they say players have to file in California because it has broader filing rules.
“There is no good reason for professional athletes to be singled out. We pay our share to the state, we negotiated the costs of the insurance that covers the claims,” Brees and Brady write. “This is not a California taxpayer issue. We are all growing increasingly aware of the health and safety issues associated with professional sports. Instead of spending money lobbying for a bill that makes it more difficult to deal with those issues, we should all be working together to care for those who are affected by them.”