We're Black and Blue All Over:
In the spring, we discussed the case of retired Minnesota Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze, who was unable to continue playing after recovering from leukemia. Udeze was denied coverage under the NFL's disability insurance because he didn't qualify under one of three criteria: "line-of-duty ailments, 'football degenerative' ailments and 'total and permanent' incapacity."
So it was with great interest that I read Brad Biggs' report in the Chicago Tribune detailing the league's denial of a $900,000 injury protection benefit from former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, who retired because of repeated concussions. The Hillenmeyer and Udeze issues are not identical, but both reflect the cold reality of NFL player retirements. And according to Hillenmeyer, there is an added layer in his case: The NFL is protecting itself against a mass legal conclusion that playing football leads to long-term health issues.
Hillenmeyer: "The fact that a case as black and white as mine can't even get resolved is indicative of a much, much deeper truth. Owners know what the game is doing to players, but once they fully acknowledge it, the gig is up."
Scary stuff, and worth a read.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Mike Mulligan of theTribune questions how much authority new Bears general manager Phil Emery will have.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times offers a quick profile of Emery, who isn't much for a self-promoter.
Dan Pompei of the Tribune refers to Emery as "one of the NFL's best evaluators of talent."
The Green Bay Packers won't host their annual Fan Fest event, according to the team via the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson deserves some blame for the team's poor pass rush in 2011, writes Mike Vandermause of the Press-Gazette.
Kevin Duchschere of the Star Tribune looks closer at the Minnesota Vikings' possible three-year shift to TCF Bank Stadium.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com offers a brief rundown of the Vikings' performance in the Pro Bowl.
A Michigan man has admitted to calling in bomb threats to the Superdome during the Detroit Lions' playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Paul Rioux of the Times-Picayune has more.
The Lions need to add some weapons to their offense, especially in the backfield, writes Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press.
Dave Birkett of the Free Press speaks to former Lions guard Dick Stanfel, a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.