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Louisiana workers comp change could sack NFL playoff expansion


The National Football League Players Association reportedly could attempt to block the NFL's planned expansion of its playoff schedule over a Louisiana bill that would define how workers compensation benefits are calculated for professional athletes.

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed H.B. 1069 on May 7, and it is now being considered by the state Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, according to the Louisiana State Legislature website.

The bill defines how average weekly wages should be calculated for professional athletes with variable wage rates, according to a copy of the bill posted online. For instance, a player who receives a daily wage rate under his contract would be deemed to have an average weekly wage of seven times the rate he earned on the day of his injury.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told USA Today on Monday that the union believes H.B. 1069 would “substantially reduce workers compensation benefits” for athletes.

NFL team owners are considering expanding the league's playoff field to 14 teams from 12, according to reports. USA Today cited anonymous sources as saying that the NFLPA considers the playoff expansion plan to be a change in working conditions, and that the union could block the playoff expansion in response to the Louisiana comp bill.

ESPN notes that NFL players typically receive the bulk of their salaries during the regular season and are paid less for playoff games — a point that could potentially reduce Louisiana comp benefits for players injured during the playoffs if H.B. 1069 passes.

Workers comp benefits have been a point of contention for NFL players in other states. California passed a bill in October 2013 limiting workers comp benefits for out-of-state professional athletes.

An August 2012 report by Seattle-based actuarial and consulting firm Milliman Inc. estimated that 78% of California’s sports-related cumulative trauma claims come from out-of-state athletes, or about $1.23 billion in estimated losses.