It should be more surprising to hear about an athlete who has squandered his earnings, but it seems to happen on a weekly basis. This time, former Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis is the former player declaring bankruptcy, filing for Chapter 11 protection with more than $10.5 million in debts.
According to court papers, Lewis is self-employed, making $35,000 a month. He also has around $14.5 million in assets. How a player can declare bankruptcy while pulling in that kind of money comes down to a lot of reasons, but it’s no less disappointing. Knowing something like this also makes it hard to support some players who are suing the NFL for concussion-related health issues.
Lewis is one of those players. He is joining a fast-growing list of former players who are taking it to the NFL in regards to their post-career health struggles. According to The Plain Dealer and Sporting News, Lewis suffers from “bouts of memory loss, headaches, nausea, sleeplessness and light sensitivity as a result of playing nine seasons in the NFL.” Is it unfortunate? Absolutely, but one wonders how many players are simply looking for the NFL to bail them out of sticky financial situations, regardless of the health problems they are facing.
Lewis says that he “never knew that from these constant hits to your head, they could cause long-term effects.” That seems like a fairly ignorant thing to say, doesn’t it? Since when did someone not understand that consistent hits to the head could cause long-term damage? Not to mention the fact that football players know going in what kind of toll the game can take on the body.
Nevertheless, Lewis – and presumably a number of other players – will be using the league as a way to help reestablish a messy financial situation. It’s sad to see these great athletes battling such debilitating injuries, but how these players spend their money isn’t the league’s problem. With that in mind, these concussion lawsuits need to be approached with the appropriate level of caution.