Guess Who’s Cashing In On Workers’ Comp?

If you said wealthy professional athletes, you are correct.

This story from the LA Times about pro athletes receiving workers’ compensation settlements caught my eye over the weekend. As stated in the article, “Over the last three decades, California’s workers’ compensation system has awarded millions of dollars in benefits for job-related injuries to thousands of professional athletes.” A case in point:

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In his seven-year career with the Denver Broncos, running back Terrell Davis, a former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, dazzled fans with his speed and elusiveness.

At the end of his rookie year in 1995, he signed a $6.8-million, five-year contract. Off the field he endorsed Campbell’s soup. And when he hung up his cleats, he reported for the National Football League Network and appeared in movies and TV shows.

So it may surprise Californians to find out that in 2011, Davis got a $199,000 injury settlement from a California workers’ compensation court for injuries related to football. This came despite the fact Davis was employed by a Colorado team and played just nine times in California during an 88-game career, according to the NFL.

Davis was compensated for the lifelong effects of multiple injuries to the head, arms, trunk, legs and general body, according to California workers’ compensation records.

A few other high profile pro athletes who were awarded large settlements include Moses Malone (3-time NBA MVP): $155,000; and Michael Irvin (Hall of Fame NFL wide receiver): $249,000.

To be sure, the plight of athletes who suffer multiple injuries (especially head trauma) over the course of their careers is a serious issue (the case of John Mackey, for example) and should not be dismissed. However, these are not your average employees who are called in to do inventory on their job and have a heavy box fall on them, or who slip and break a bone because another careless employee spilled something in the break room. Rather, these are professional athletes who enter their profession in full knowledsge of all the risks, including the potential for serious injury, in their pursuit of the reward of a multi-million dollar payday.

To be clear workers’ compensation is funded by employers, so the taxpayers are not actually on the hook for these payments, but state workers’ compensation systems are not the place for such settlements. Not only do they bog down the system with additional claims and burdern their monetary resources, someone should not be able to shop his or her case from state to state in order to obtain the most favorable ruling. Rather, since the majority of professional athletes are unionized, these settlements (or some other injury-related compensation) should be part of the collective bargaining agreement between the respective professional leagues and players associations.

Unfortunately, this is just another example of how inefficient, costly and dysfunctional things become when the government iss involved.

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What Conservatives Can Learn From The Super Bowl

Sports metaphors; sure they are cliché, but there is an element of truth in clichés. I’ve made no secret that I’m a die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan, just as I realize that there are those who are not fans, and even dislike the team (or the sport in general). However, I ask you to put aside any ill-will you may have towards the Ravens (or the game) to consider something that we can take away from their Super Bowl win on February 3, 2013.

In case you missed it, the Ravens jumped out to a 28-6 lead over the 49ersat the beginning on the 2nd half of the game, then the lights went out in the Superdome…literally (well, half the lights, anyhow). Play was stopped for 34 minutes while officials were determining what happened and how to get the lights back on, as well as power to the broadcasting booth and commumications on the 49ers sideline. The delay seemed to allow the 49ers to regroup, and the momentum of the game swung as the San Francisco mounted a furious comeback. With the Ravens up 34-29 with two minutes to play, the 49ers had the ball with a first down at the Ravens’ seven yard line. Four tries to get seven yards for the go-ahead touchdown with seconds left on the clock. After three plays, it came down to a fourth down play from the five yard line. If the Ravens made the stop, they would get the ball back with the lead and mere seconds to go for the win.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you probably know what happened next. The Ravens were determined to not let the 49ers run the ball with their quarterback prodigy, so they sent an all-out run blitz; the 49ers QB saw the pressure an audibled to a pass. The pass was hurried by the defensive pressure and the ball sailed out of bound and out of the reach of the receiver, all but ensuring a Ravens win.

The point here is not to debate the game, but rather reflect on the mindset of the Ravens during the final play. Keep in mind that this is a team who lost the Defensive Player of the Year in the preseason; lost their best cornerback in week 3, lost their team leader in week 6, and had a series of injuries to key players. In fact, most of their starters on defense did not play together until the first week of the playoffs. Suffice it to say that this was a team that faced its share of adversity throughout the season. Therefore, it’s instructive to note how the players reacted to that one final stand that likely could have meant the difference between a win and a loss.

What it came down to was trust, that each man would do his job and could depend on the others to do their jobs:

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees turned up the heat and blitzed, filling the running lanes with white jerseys. “My decision was I just wasn’t going to let them do it running (the ball),” Pees said. They left the Ravens’ defensive backs in tough, one-on-one situations with the 49ers’ superb receivers, but the defenders held firm. “What we said in the huddle was, ‘Just beat your man, just beat your man,’” safety Bernard Pollard said.

So how were they able to have the trust in each other and confidence that they would succeed? Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked what enabled his team to hold on. “We’re a resilient team. We’ve got a lot of resolve. That’s why we won the game,” he said. “We’ve been through so much together, so many ups and downs, that we don’t let any situation get to us, even one like that,” Bernard Pollard added.

Those last two quotes are the entire purpose of this article (after a probably way-too-long recounting of the Super Bowl). This is the kind of mindset that conservatives need to adopt. The Ravens had an up-and-down season full of adversity, lost 4 of their last 5 games and were left for dead at the beginning of the playoffs – no one gave them a chance at winning it all. Kind of like how we conservatives have lost the last two presidential elections, been circumvented through executive orders, villified by the president and press, and generally kicked around for the past 5 years.

What is needed now more than ever is a sense of unity, of resiliency in fighting the leftist agenda being set forth by Obama and the Democrat controlled Senate. It is well known that Obama’s goal is to decisively fracture the Republican Party by focusing on wedge issues that will cause conservative infighting. He wants to destroy the GOP.

In response, Republicans are expressing increased frustration over his strong arm tactics and flagrant insincerity when dealing with these defining issues. Responding to Obama’s reprehensibly partisan and vitriolic inauguration speech, Republican House Speaker John Boehner asserted that the Administration is working to “annihilate the Republican Party,” and to “shove us into the dustbin of history.” While Boehner is absolutely right, conservatives outside of the Beltway have been infuriated by his unwillingness to recognize this obvious point since Obama made plain his tactics starting in 2009.

The problem is that through the use of wedge issues, Obama is generally succeeeding in creating infighting among conservatives. At a time when we should be more united than ever, taking a “world against us” approach, what we actually have is public dissention from members of Congress, an ill time and incredibly planned “coup” of the Speakership of the House, and bickering, arguing and attacking one another at the grassroots level.

Before I took my Super Bowl hiatus, I witnessed one conservative attack another over the use of “Plan B” in rape cases. Terms like “pro-abortion”, “fake conservative”, “liberal”, “and “watering down the conservative message” were (and continue to be) thrown around in an effort to tear down a fellow conservative. This doesn’t only happen at the grass-roots level either. During he primary season prior to the last election, there were plenty of well known conservative pundits who seemed on a mission to destroy one candidate or another over an obscure statement or policy decision. I’ve even recently seen a pundit justify this by stating that it is nothing more than a case of someone being upset because their favorite candidate was rigorously vetted.

I couldn’t disagree more. Unfortunately, conservatives seemed to be less concerned with winning elections than with so-called purity tests; it seems to me that these pundits have their favorite who meets their “test” and decided to destroy anyone else who does not pass (see Rick Perry and Guardasil for a good case study). All these purity tests do is further divide and fracture us, and leave us with a candidate who is nothing more than the last man standing, and frequently not the most conservative (see Romney, Mitt*). This is why we lose.

If conservatives ever want to get their “mojo” back, it’s time to emulate the Super Bowl Champions and stick together through the tough times in a unity of purpose. We need to stop the petty bickering and falling for the trap of wedge issues that will be coming fast and furiously at us. Most of all, we would do well to remember the Reagan 80% Rule:

My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy

A Quick Note

As you may (or may not) have noticed, it’s been a while since my last post. That was partly by design, and partly due to circumstance. I originally decided to take a little time off to enjoy the Ravens’ playoff run*, and ultimate Super Bowl victory (chew on that, haters!). However, as it often does, life got in the way: I had two cars that needed to be placed in the shop, I ended up with a week long case of the flu (the one time I put off getting my flu shot), and the wind and rain knocked a branch into our satellite dish, kicking me offline for a few days. However, now that I’m over the flu, internet restored, cars fixed and Lombardi in (figurative) hand, I’ll be back to my regular posting schedule. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

*I was born and raised in and around Baltimore, and grew up with the Colts; my whole family were die-hard fans and season ticket holders (see the movie Diner). I even had a neighbor growing up who was the Head Trainer for the Colts before they were moved. Some of my best childhood memories were going to games at old Memorial Stadium. I was living in New Orleans when the Ravens were established, but my die-hard love of my hometown team was quickly revived and lives on, even though I’m now in Cowboys country.

Honor on Display: Army vs. Navy

At 3:00 PM Eastern today, the 113th installment of the Army-Navy football game will get Imageunderway. I really don’t have much more to say about this game than what has already been said over the years. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend John Feinstein’s excellent book about this game: A Civil War: Army Vs. Navy a Year Inside College Football’s Purest Rivalry. It provides a personal look at the dedication, commitment and honor of these men, who represent the best that this nation has to offer. The Bleacher Report has a nice summary:

This game is also about showcasing some of the brightest young stars this country has to offer. No, they aren’t the most talented rosters and certainly can’t compare to other collegiate powerhouses, but all players on both the Navy and Army squads have more character and guts than any normal football player could ever possess.

As far as I’m concerned, this rivalry represents the best about sports. For me, watching these young men, most of whom were ignored by the major programs, play simply for the love of the game (and the honor of their branch of service) as far more enjoyable and satisfying than, say, the national championship game, which will get all the hype (and money). The former showcases the essence of sportsmanship, dedication, and pure love of the game, while the latter seems like just another another corporate, all-about-the-money event.

All I know is that I’ll be watching the game with relish. To follow the game online in real time, check out armynavygame.com.  Oh yeah and one more thing:

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