“It’s cost shifting,” said Owens, the former player turned attorney who represents hundreds of ex-athletes. “It’s shifted to the U.S. government and Social Security. If the teams will not pay, or the insurance companies won’t pay for work-related injuries, where do the guys go?”
The cost will fall on taxpayers, according to a 2008 congressional research report on NFL disability. There are approximately 18,000 NFL alumni, and when they can’t pay for their health care it has an impact on “society as a whole,” the report said.