The beginning of End of Zeke Motta’s football career came at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., in December 2013, when he ran downfield to cover a kickoff for the Atlanta Falcons. He was knocked to the ground by two Packers blockers, and briefly lost consciousness.

His fracture was severe. of The C1 vertebra, which sits at its base of It holds the head straight and protects the skull. Motta was 24 when doctors advised that it was unsafe to continue playing.

That was when his physical problem also became a financial one — a common story for hundreds of Former N.F.L. Former N.F.L. players have suffered injuries on the field during their career. Motta, who was just a rookie at the time of his injury, was not eligible for either a post-career pension or health care. His applications to the league and union for disability benefits have repeatedly been denied.

Now 32, Motta said he’s “still trying to find my way.” He had enough savings from his short professional career to purchase a home, but the physical consequences were too much. of His injuries have restricted the types of He can work.

“I spent my whole life playing football and working toward a dream,” Motta said. “Then only to find out that it’s just a business.”

Damar Hamlin (24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety) suffered cardiac arrest. He was revived by the team on the field in prime time N.F.L. game. It shocked the nation and brought attention to the dangers of falling. of Playing football.

Hamlin was only in his second year of high school and had never crossed the threshold. of Three years to receive a pension, and other important benefits. He is guaranteed to get the N.F.L. attention because of all that has been done about his case. He will be taken care of by the Bills, with almost all eyes on his case of If he doesn’t play again, Motta is not the only one. of Other players who had their young careers ruined by injuries often have less luck. Some players leave with broken bodies, mixed job prospects and struggle to find the support they require.

“The world’s collective heart is pouring itself out for Hamlin, but the main point is there are a lot of journeymen players who leave the league with serious problems,” Michael LeRoy, who is a professor of sports labor law at the University. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “People assume the players are taken care of. But the N.F.L. loves you until you’re injured and then you’re somebody else.”

Belinda Lerner is the head of N.F.L. Player Benefits and Retired Player Programs, said the league has expanded benefits and retroactively given pensions to former players who didn’t qualify before.

N.F.L. agrees to provide benefits for players who are injured or quit the game. and the players’ union. The league pulls in about $18 billion in annual revenue, and player salaries and benefits are funded by the players’ share of The union or league decides how it should be divided.

The N.F.L. is a different league. Benefits are especially important. and M.L.B., teams customarily don’t offer players fully guaranteed contracts.

N.F.L. players who have retired Retired N.F.L. players get five years of Health insurance is available, however they must vest before the end of their third season. N.F.L. players has a career average of less than four years. The average career length for N.F.L. players is four years. In 2011, when the players tried to expand their health coverage, team owners suggested that they should pay the full cost. of the players’ share of The current revenue is approximately 48 percent.

According to Domonique Foxworth (retired N.F.L.), the salary reduction was not a deal that players wanted. Former president and cornerback of the players’ union.

“A roomful of 20-somethings who are playing football are not looking to have their earnings depressed because of lifetime health care,” Foxworth stated.

Whether or not Hamlin tries to return to football, his contract underscores how little young players earn relative to the league’s stars even as they remain one injury away from losing their jobs.

Hamlin, who was draft in the sixth rounds in 2021 signed an agreement four-year, $3.6 million rookie deal which paid him $660,000 for the first year and $825,000 for the second. This was the minimum salary as per the collective bargaining agreement. Average N.F.L. salary is over $2 million salary is above $2 million, and the league’s stars earn well into eight figures per season.

Hamlin’s The contract contained a standard clause that would have cut Hamlin’s salary by half if he were placed on injured reserve. However, the union and league reached a settlement to pay him the entire amount. If Hamlin doesn’t return to the field next season, he can still recoup his entire $940,000 salary as part of A new injury-protection benefit was added to the previous labor agreement.

There are various resources designed to fill the gaps for unvested players, including the union’s hardship fund and a hospital network across N.F.L. Players can receive free annual checksups, and other medical care in cities. They are not always enough in an sport where careers end in one play, but can leave long-lasting consequences for players.

A Line can be applied for by all injured players of Duty benefit is a type of benefits of disability. Players Approved applicants receive at minimum $4,500 each month or $54,000 per year for 7.5-years.

“It’s basically an injury severance,” Paul Scott worked for the N.F.L. Player Benefits Disability Plan was created before Benefits Huddle began. It assists players in filing claims.

Scott was the administrator of the Plan from 2016 to 2016, so he experienced firsthand how difficult it is for players to get approved. Scott claimed that about half the Line applications were rejected. of The duty benefits were not approved then. However, the union refused to disclose what is currently the approval rate.

The nearly 3200 players who received some form of compensation this year will get $320million. of According to the union, disability benefits are available. “We advocate for a fair process to ensure all players are treated equally when they apply,” In a statement, the union claimed.

Motta has been among those denied by the disability panel.

Motta wanted to be there that day, so he wrapped his right hand in a bandage and received Toradol to soothe his pain.

Motta, still dazed from the impact that broke his vertebrae, was put back on the field by a safety to replace the one who was concussed and had already left the game. He didn’t feel pain in his neck until after the game, when he struggled to remove his pads. Motta only participated in the practices, and then started the next round of the game. The team did not send Motta to magnetic resonance imaging until after that. of His spine.

Motta submitted his Line application of Duty benefit has been denied based on the disability plan’s point system.

“Because there’s not too many players that come through with a fractured C1 vertebra, they don’t really know how to evaluate the symptoms of that,” He stated. “I have neuropathy, tingling, stiffness, headaches. Pain has just become part of my life.”

Motta received workers’ compensation and sued members of the Falcons’ medical staff over the handling of He was injured (the case was settled out). of court). He found that sitting at his desk as customer service representative made him feel worse. So he began teaching Qigong and is a free-dive instructor. To make the final appeal to disability board, he will be meeting with his doctor next month.

15 years ago Hamlin’s collapse, Kevin Everett, a former Bills tight endA spinal-cord injury was sustained by, in the first match of His third season in the league, the 2007 season. Everett was paralysed from the neck down at first. He became vested after spending the season in injured reserve. of The total and permanent disabilities benefits now amount to $265,000 annually.

Non-vested players may apply for permanent and total disability, but they must also meet strict criteria. While it’s unclear what support Hamlin may need, Troy Vincent, the N.F.L.’s executive vice president of Football operations has, has promised that he will “get the resources necessary” To live “a complete life.”

However, this approach is not a good idea. of equity. Many Players who are not vested and leave the N.F.L. because of These career-ending injuries often happen on their own.

1981Kenny Blair joined the Philadelphia Eagles undrafted as a rookie and was injures during training camp. As he tried to catch the pass, a defender struck him on his chest helmet-first. He broke his sternum, and sent him into cardiac arrest. Blair was hospitalized for several weeks and received a metal plate in his chest.

Blair claimed that to receive his final paycheck, he needed to sign a document which turned out to be his release. Blair never participated in a league game.

Blair doesn’t recall any one telling him how to get benefits. He was also not eligible for pensions or other retirement benefits. After becoming a coach at a high school football team, he still has vertigo as well as nerve and visual issues.

“It was dirty for them to cut me with an injury like that,” He stated. “All I wanted to do was play football.”

Cameron Clark, an offensive-lineman draft by the Jets, was involved in a collision with his teammate in training camp two. The result? He collapsed. For more than one hour, he lost all feeling except in his right arm. His spinal-cord injury was confirmed by an expert who told him that playing football could lead to permanent paralysis.

Clark was forced to retire when he turned 24, but he applied for disability benefits, which a denied.

“My career ended due to an injury that happened in an N.F.L. facility,” Clark stated. “I’m not looking for any handouts, but it’s a benefit that I earned through being an employee for the N.F.L. that I feel like I rightfully qualify for, that I was denied.”

Whether these players’ appeals are approved or not, the harsh reality that Hamlin’s The injury shows that this is not likely to happen.

“Nobody ever wants to see this happen again, for both humanitarian and business reasons,” Nellie Drew from the University at Buffalo is a professor of sports law. “He’s the poster child for what the N.F.L. does not want us thinking about, which is that the game is very, very dangerous.”