The NFL’s surprising occupational hazard: obesity that kills

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Today’s NFL linemen have to be bigger than ever.

Today’s post comes to us from our colleague Len Jernigan of North Carolina. Football is a topic near and dear to the hearts of the folks at Rehm, Bennett & Moore, as we know it is for so many Nebraskans. As Len discusses, like all athletes professional football players face some dire work-related health problems. We’ll continue to cover this and similar topics from time to time on our blog.

Most people know that football is dangerous. We see reports of NFL players with every kind of gruesome injury imaginable. Even suicidal depression, it turns out, is a potential hazard of playing football. Of course playing in the NFL is both rewarding and risky.

There is one common health problem among NFL players, however, that usually goes unmentioned. We thought it was a fitting topic for our workers’ law blog because NFL linemen must embrace this condition in order to stay in peak performance. It’s called chronic obesity.

These days, to be an NFL lineman, you not only have to be fast and strong, you also have to be fat.

Since the 1990s, a growing number of players have followed in the footsteps of William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Since his time, the average weight of an NFL lineman has gone up, and up some more, and players have felt the pressure to keep up by overeating.

Then, in retirement, players must adjust to everyday life with bodies that are overweight, poor eating habits, and injuries that make it really hard to lose excess pounds.

It isn’t lost on those guys that weighing over 300 pounds is a recipe for a shorter life span. They’ve seen many of their colleagues die young. Reggie White, Hall of Fame defensive end, died of cardiac arrhythmia at age 43. Orlando Bobo, former offensive lineman died in 2007 from heart and liver failure at age 33. And that’s to name just a few.

The fact is that retired NFL linemen have higher death rates than the general public.
Check back with us next week to see how retired NFL players are coping with this scary side effect of playing professional football.


Leonard T. Jernigan Jr. is the founder of the Jernigan Law firm, a highly experienced firm representing injured workers across North Carolina. An acclaimed attorney, author, and law professor specializing in workers’ compensation, Leonard T. Jernigan Jr. is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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2 thoughts on “The NFL’s surprising occupational hazard: obesity that kills

  1. Pingback: The NFL’s surprising occupational hazard: obesity that kills, PART 2 - Workers' Compensation Watch

  2. Pingback: Nebraska – A Rare Example Of How To Treat Student Athletes Better - Workers' Compensation Watch

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