On Saturday, the NFL‘s Player’s Association sent out the following tweet regarding the Cincinnati Bengals’ possible attempt to alter Ohio state laws regarding worker’s compensation:
“ATTENTION ALL PLAYERS. In a move that could impact our entire membership, Bengals ownership is attempting to strip all athletes in Ohio of their workers’ compensation benefits.”
Well, the NFLPA is certainly taking a stance and alleging that the Bengals are trying to rid Ohio pro athletes of any and all worker’s comp. However, there is no evidence that the Bengals are trying to completely “strip all athletes in Ohio” of their compensation benefits. Plus, there’s more. The Bengals are not even allowed to do so. In fact, the NFLPA leaves out a relevant fact. That Bengals ownership hasn’t even filed the alleged legislation to change worker’s compensation laws.
Bengals reporter Ben Baby gave a thorough rundown of the situation in a story for ESPN. He made sure to note the following. “The alert from the NFLPA appears to be preemptive ahead of any proposed legislation that will be filed during the current session of the Ohio General Assembly.”
He also included the following sentence. “The players’ union said it believes the new legislation would require those athletes to pay for their own medical care at billed amounts instead of any reduced rates available under Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws.”
NFLPA leaves crucial information out of initial tweet
A couple things. 1.) The union believes but definitely does not know. So these aren’t facts from the NFLPA but rather informed speculation. 2.) The union believes Cincinnati is attempting to strip pro athletes’ of worker’s comp rights even though, per Ben Baby, the NFL’s own Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states that any team who declines to grant workers’ compensation under state law is still required to “guarantee equivalent benefits to its players.”
Even if the Bengals ownership was trying to alter Ohio law, they cannot strip players from benefits. In fact, if they were to try and not operate under Ohio’s state workers’ comp guidelines, they would have to pay the same amount of compensation money. It would just come from their own pockets. So no, the Bengals will not strip players of their compensation. Because the CBA, which is signed by the NFLPA, requires teams to pay compensation benefits. The Bengals may try to change state law, but they cannot alter that CBA rule.
The NFLPA incorrectly wrote that the Bengals are “attempting to strip all athletes in Ohio of their workers’ compensation benefits.” Because the CBA that the NFLPA and NFL signed explicitly states that no player can be stripped of benefits. This fact was overlooked by the NFLPA when they sent that tweet. Or, they purposely chose to leave out that important fact before scaring players into believing the Bengals are trying to strip compensation from their players.
More context on NFLPA tweet
That tweet came just two days before free agency. And, it was made by an NFLPA with a president who plays for Cleveland. And it lacks proper context. Of course, the Bengals are historically cheap. And they may be trying to alter Ohio law to help lower the benefits they would owe to former players. However, they will not “strip” players of compensation as the NFLPA tweet suggests.
Ben Baby said he reached out to the team for comment. But the Bengals had not responded to his multiple requests as of Sunday evening.