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Monday, January 30, 2012
BBAO: Hunter Hillenmeyer's plight

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

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: