The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants have long held a rivalry with one another. But Sunday evening, when the Cowboys won against the Giants in a last-minute display of skill, it came across to fans and players both as a pyrrhic victory of sorts — or, in other words, it came at too great a cost. The game left popular quarterback Dak Prescott down and out for the remainder of the season.
Prescott incurred a serious injury: one compound fracture in his left ankle (and a dislocation in the same place). He went into surgery quickly. He’s already out, only 48 hours later. Prescott had been tackled by Giants player Logan Ryan during the third quarter. A silence fell. The stadium mob knew something was wrong. The recovery? Up to six months. And that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be able to play again, a possibility clearly on Prescott’s mind as he was carried off the field on a stretcher and in tears.
Most United States workers must file for workers’ compensation when injured on the job. Many readers have inquired whether or not NFL players who were injured are still paid full salary — i.e. millions — when they can’t actually play, or if there is something similar to workers’ comp for football players.
Like any work accident, NFL players who are injured “on the job” have an easy means of compensation. But it isn’t workers’ comp.
It all comes down to the type of contract that was signed and the amount of experience a player has. More importantly, will the team permanently remove the player from the roster? Or will the player stay on to fight another day?
First and foremost, experience matters: if a “non-vested” player is injured and then cut, there will be a number of waivers to be signed before other teams are provided a grace period during which they can sign him over to their side. Non-vested refers to those rookie players with fewer than four years total experience in the NFL. Vested players — or those who have enough experienced to be released immediately before a season starts — can sign with anyone they like at any time.
Players who fall into different categories will receive different pay when injured, depending on whether or not they are cut from the team following that injury. For example, many players might not receive full salary due to stipulations in their contract — which will specify exactly what kind of split pay they’re looking at if relegated to the injured reserve. Rookies would make much less, while those who have been playing longer will have better deals and make much closer to their maximum pay.
Medical bills aren’t exactly a problem for football players, anyway, because they have the best insurance available — which certainly isn’t accessible to your average American. Also, they’re paid enough that the financial cost of an injury is barely felt at all. So even though they might be paid less after an injury — don’t spend too much time worrying about them. They’re fine!