NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith pulled no punches about a possible new law in Illinois this afternoon in a radio interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on WSCR 670-AM in Chicago, and this was the most prominent line:
"This union will tell every potential free agent not to sign with the Bears if this bill passes" @DeSmithNFLPA on proposed workers comp bill
— Spiegel & Parkins (@Spiegel_Parkins) February 3, 2017
At its core, the bill — originally introduced by State Senator Michael Connelly and sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Christina Radogno — would reduce certain workers’ compensation benefits for professional athletes at age 35. Most Illinois workers who are injured can claim such benefits until age 67. Rich Miller’s Capitol Fax blog provided some background on the issue on Jan. 25.
For what it’s worth, it’s possible that nothing happens with this bill, as Springfield is in gridlock. The bipartisan grand bargain (which you can read about here) that is supposed to help put a budget in place in Illinois has recently hit pause.
The Bears issued a statement in the wake of Smith’s radio interview:
The Bears issued a statement and clarity to their position on the proposed Illinois workers' comp adjustments. pic.twitter.com/KKJFptB3NV
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) February 3, 2017
This situation could be worth monitoring for both the sports and political landscape. Especially considering how much money the Bears are projected to have this offseason and the number of holes the team has to fill en route to being competitive.
For what it’s worth, Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly sees one problem in Smith’s strong statement.
NFLPA's Exec Dir Smith says he'll sway players signing with Bears if new Ill law passes. Problem is few players could care less what he says
— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) February 3, 2017
Perhaps this will prove to be little more than bluster in the end. But the Bears certainly don’t need any politically-created impediments to improving their roster.