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Davis Asks Commissioner about NFL Health Care

Posted Jan 31, 2014

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a question at his Friday press conference in New York City.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the stage in New York City on Friday for his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference.

Goodell fielded a number of notable questions on the state of professional football. Most of them came from credentialed reporters.

However, the NFL commissioner would later receive a hard-hitting question from Vernon Davis. The San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl tight end joined the press conference as a guest contributor for MMQB.com.

Midway through the press conference, the 49ers tight end stood up and spoke up from the back of the room.

“Hey, Roger, Vernon Davis here, tight end for the San Francisco 49ers."

Goodell smiled and said, "I know who you are, Vernon. I’m glad to have you here.”

“Thanks, Roger. I appreciate it, buddy. I’m writing for MMQB," the 49ers tight end said before asking a question on player health care. “Roger, we play one of America’s most dangerous and most lucrative games. But, still, we have to fight for health benefits. We have to jump through (hoops) for it. Why doesn’t the NFL offer free health care for life, especially for those suffering from brain injury?”

Goodell offered a lengthy thoughtful response:

“Vernon, first off, we had lots of discussions about that in the collective bargaining process. We went back and improved a lot of our health benefits, both for former players and for current players, to the point where I think the health benefits that are provided to current NFL players are the best in the world. And so I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do with the union in approving those benefits.

“We all still have a lot of work to do for former players. The cost of trying to provide health care for every player that’s ever played in the league was discussed with the union. It was determined that these changes were the best changes. And that’s what we negotiated. But we’re all proud of the efforts that we made. We will continue to make more efforts and do a better job, particularly with our former players in providing them opportunities and to give them the proper health care.

“And our programs, as an example, the ‘88 Plan’ for anyone who has dementia or any other kind of neurological disorder, that’s there for the players and their families for lifetime. So we have programs that are addressing those issues that we have created, or the owners have created, on their own. And we also have several of them that were created with the union.”

Following Davis' question, MMQB.com, the Peter King-led web site, proudly noted the 49ers tight end was working for them moments after he chimed in at the press conference.


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