Jermichael Finley, the former Green Bay Packers tight end, is at a crossroads.
Does he try to continue his once-promising NFL career after having spinal fusion surgery on his neck last year or does he walk away from the game to collect on a $10 million disability insurance policy?
There is some question whether or not the act of seeking a new job as a professional football player would negate any claim he might have to the insurance. It seems logical to think that getting an NFL contract offer would prove his ability to work, thus giving the insurance company an easy out for not paying any disability insurance claim.
To me, on the outside looking in, it seems like there wouldn’t be a choice. Take the money and run, while you still can.
We’re talking about a player who sustained a bruised spinal cord and wound up having to have vertabrae fused. That doesn’t seem like something you want to have when you’re about to get whacked by large men wanting to separate you from a football.
He has at least 10 million reasons not to play anymore and that’s not even getting into the more fundamental questions of quality of life, being able to stand, walk, run and participate in daily life activities.
At this point, about the best he can hope to do contract wise is a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal of $730,000, and run the risk of jarring an already pretty well jarred spine.
An agent, Blake Baratz, told Pro Football Talk that Finley has a good case to collect on a disability claim if he stops trying to play football right now. But if he goes to a team’s minicamp or training camp or plays in a preseason game, any disability claim would be all but nullified.
This is not a situation where he can do one or the other; disability insurance is generally not a fallback.
Most disability insurance policies aren’t written to allow the policy holder to have a choice, to try to go back to work in his old job—in this case, professional football player—and if that doesn’t work out, here’s a check for $10 million.
You may not realize this, but insurance companies don’t want to hand out eight-figure checks. They make their money off the premiums, sure, but they also will use the claims process to try to make money.
Insurance companies will try to settle for a lower claim amount or deny the claim outright or, in some cases, they will accuse the policy holder of fraud.
There’s really no scenario in which Finley could legitimately try to make a team and walk away with the insurance money if he doesn’t. The act of trying to play negates any claim that he’s too disabled to play and, surprisingly, that makes sense to me.
I get it; the hardest thing for anybody to do is to simply admit they can’t do something anymore, particularly when they’ve been one of the best people on the planet at that particular skill.
I can’t even fathom how hard it would be to walk away from what has been your entire life at 27 years old. But it really should be easier than fathoming a life with a damaged spinal cord.
It can be hard to accept that you really aren’t 10 feet tall and bullet proof.
But it’s a reality Jermichael Finley might want to come to terms with.