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Former NFL players are suing the league over denied disability benefits

A group of former National Football League players is suing the organization, alleging that it has a pattern of denying disability benefits for those with both physical injuries and mental impairments, despite evidence from medical and team records.

The plaintiffs include Jason Alford, Daniel Loper, Willis McGahee, Michael McKenzie, Jamize Olawale, Alex Parsons, Eric Smith, Charles Sims, Joey Thomas and Lance Zeno.

They are «seeking redress for the wrongful denial of benefits, the denial of statutorily mandated full and fair review of benefits denials, violations of plan terms or governing regulations, and breaches of fiduciary duty,» according to the complaint, which was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Several of them had their applications for benefits denied on multiple occasions, marred by conflicting reports from doctors with denial rates often exceeding more than 90%, the lawsuit says.

The complaint suggests the doctors who analyzed the plaintiffs were highly paid by the league, and therefore purposefully minimized the former players’ complaints in reports so the league was justified in denying their applications to avoid payouts. Conversely, doctors who made less were more likely to accurately detect disabilities, the lawsuit says.

For example, the complaint says a doctor who evaluated Smith was never paid more than $72,765 in a year from the board in 11 years. From April 2015 through March 2016, he was paid $34,268. The next year, after the doctor found 20 impairment points during his examination of Smith – and the player was approved for disability benefits – the doctor’s pay fell to $16,711.

The plaintiffs point out that physicians are supposed to be neutral, but the league does not have a system in place to audit physicians’ reports or collect data on how many claims are approved or denied, and does not penalize those who make inaccurate or incomplete reports.

The NFL was not immediately available for comment, but on Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked at a press conference how he justifies so many players being denied disability benefits.

We have to obviously have a system to be able to identify who qualifies for those benefits and who doesn’t qualify for those benefits, and that’s done with union and management,» he said. «And the facts are that’s done independently with doctors who make a determination of whether … an individual qualifies under that program.»

«So you don’t want people to benefit from it that don’t qualify for it, because it takes away from people who do qualify for it. So you’re always going to have people who may think they qualify for it – doctors disagree, the joint board disagrees. That’s a way the system works, but I would tell you the benefits in the NFL are off the charts.»

Goodell is listed as a defendant in the suit, and is also on the board of the NFL Player Disability and Neurocognitive Benefit Plan. He said about $2.5 billion of the league’s $10 billion player compensation package this year is for benefits.

Yearly disability compensation can range from $65,000 a year to $265,000 a year, depending on if the injury was sustained while performing activities for the league or not, and how long ago the injury happened.

A doctor for McGahee, who played 11 years as a running back, incorrectly stated McGahee was unimpaired, despite several tests showing impaired cognitive function, and used McGahee’s demographic information, including his race, to estimate his IQ prior to the injury, the lawsuit says.

Education level and prior training is not allowed to be evaluated when determining players’ benefits.

According to the lawsuit, Sims was approved for Inactive A benefits, which do not require an injury be sustained during a player’s time in the league, even though he qualified for Total and Permanent benefits, which are given to those who have «​​become totally disabled to the extent that he is substantially prevented from or substantially unable to engage in any occupation or employment and such condition is permanent.»

In Sims’ decision letter, the seven-person board wrote that one member did not believe Sims sustained his injuries – including «‘post-concussive syndrome’ and multiple orthopedic ‘NFL related impairments'» – during his four years in the league as a running back, despite the doctor’s report saying so. Therefore, the board could not agree on a classification for Sims’ benefits, the lawsuit says.

In an appeal, Sims submitted additional team and medical records, but was once again denied, as the board determined there still was no evidence proving Sims was injured as a player, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are seeking to make their complaint a class action lawsuit, have the current members of the board removed and be given monetary relief.

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Matchday Guide: Boro vs Mariners

Take a read our matchday guide ahead of tomorrow’s game vs Grimsby Town at The Lamex Stadium in Sky Bet League Two…

Kicking off at 3pm in Sky Bet League Two, Steve Evans’ men know three points will be enough to secure promotion to League One when Paul Hurst’s Mariners visit SG2.

In front of a sold-out Lamex Stadium, the atmosphere is set to be electric as Boro aim for one more win to complete their season objective.

Saturday’s fixture is completely SOLD-OUT. No tickets will be sold on the day, so if you do not have a ticket, please do not travel.

For those with seat tickets, we recommend arrival at the stadium earlier than usual to ensure you are seated in your allocated seat.

Our North Stand and East Terrace are operating at 90% capacity due to restrictions placed by the Safety Advisory Group.

A Message to Supporters
At this crucial stage of the year, we must remind you in the interests of safety for everyone inside our stadium, that the pitch is for managers, players and match officials, while the stands are there for you to support the team.

Pitch incursions are dangerous and anyone who does encroach onto the playing surface will face strong sanctions that could include a ban from attending matches here at The Lamex Stadium, across the country and police action.

Furthermore, the use of pyrotechnics or smoke bombs at football grounds also carries an automatic ban and is something we take very seriously.

We appreciate your relentless support for our Club, but please do not put others at risk in doing so.

supporters are encouraged to stick around after Saturday’s final home league game of the season against Grimsby Town, in anticipation of the 2022/23 Supporters’ Association End of Season Awards.

As a reminder to supporters, these awards can only take place if the pitch is clear and safe for the players.

Club Shop & Ticket Office…
The Stevenage FC Club Shop is open at the earlier time of 11:30am on Saturday, closing at kick-off. The shop will also be open briefly at full-time.

Visit us in-store to collect Barrow AFC (A) tickets or purchase and browse our new leisurewear selection.

The North Stand Ticket Office, located on Broadhall Way, opens at midday and closes fifteen minutes after kick-off (3.15pm) for match ticket collections or queries. No tickets will be sold on the day.

Food & Drink…
The 76 Lounge

Open to home & away supporters from midday, at half-time for North Stand ticket holders and again for all from full-time to 8pm.

Supporters can also purchase hot food and drinks inside The 76 Lounge from 3.15pm which can be accessed via both side door of the North Stand.

Fans can move between The 76 Lounge and the tea bar area inside the North Stand to purchase food & drinks.

The Broadhall Suite

The Broadhall Suite is open to both sets of supporters from midday until kick-off, with a variety of drinks to choose from as well as a hot food matchday menu. This venue opens once again at full-time until 8pm.

Tea Bars

Tea bars around The Lamex Stadium are card only when purchasing food and drink around the ground.

How to Follow…
UK-based supporters can listen to Stevenage vs Grimsby Town with an iFollow Audio Match Pass, available to purchase for £2.50.

Overseas supporters can watch the action live with an iFollow Audio Match Pass, available for just £10.

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Match Preview: Stevenage vs Grimsby Town

Stevenage can secure promotion to Sky Bet League One tomorrow as they welcome Grimsby Town to a sold-out Lamex Stadium…

After Tuesday’s triumph in Swindon, Stevenage sit third in League Two and four points clear of Stockport County in fourth with just two games left to play.

Grimsby Town occupy eleventh place in the league table and, whilst they are unable to reach the play-off places, they will undoubtedly be looking to spoil Stevenage’s fun. The Mariners’ away form has been satisfactory this campaign, winning nine away league fixtures from twenty-two. Grimsby also had a successful FA Cup run, reaching the Quarter finals before being knocked out by Brighton and Hove Albion.

They have had a mixed bag of results recently, so will be unpredictable going into tomorrow’s match. On Tuesday, they picked up a 2-0 victory at home to Crewe Alexandra through goals by Gavan Holohan and Danilo Orsi. But three days prior, Grimsby suffered a 2-0 defeat away to Tranmere.

Paul Hurst is currently enjoying his second spell as Grimsby boss after spending 2011-2016 in charge of The Mariners. Last season, he led his side to National League Play-off Final glory, after beating Solihull Moors at The London Stadium. Hurst previously had managerial spells at Ipswich, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury and Boston United.

Will Finnie has been appointed Match Referee for tomorrow’s match, with Scott Williams and Damith Bandara as Assistants, and Stephen Finch as Fourth Official.

Finnie has handed out ninety-five yellow cards and just one red in thirty matches this campaign.

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The Link Between Religicide and Violence Against Women

Violence against women has emerged as one of the hallmarks of religicide. Religious, civil society and business leaders must stop it in its tracks.

Involuntary sterilization and birth control in China. Honor killing in Iraq. State-sponsored rape in Myanmar. Forced marriage in Syria. Female genital mutilation in sub-Saharan Africa.

These are among the weapons used to control women today and throughout history – and likely among the many practices that will be denounced and discussed today on International Women’s Day. Yet an unrecognized form of human rights violation must be added to this litany of abuses in which women’s bodies are the battleground: religicide.

Religicide is the systematic, highly targeted effort to eradicate an entire religion, including its practices, adherents, sacred spaces, habitats and cultural heritage. Religicide plays out largely by controlling the reproductive choices of women, who they marry and who has access to their bodies.

Violence against women has emerged as one of the hallmarks of religicide. It has been practiced in China against Uyghur Muslims, in Iraq against Yazidis and in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims. This abuse of women is a form of genocide-in-slow-motion.

Intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence against women, affecting around 641 million women and girls globally, according to the World Health Organization. Religicide fosters a form of such violence – rape, which is used as a weapon to wipe out religious identity. In religicide, women forcibly “married” to men of other faiths – or no faith – often must submit to those men or risk losing their lives along with their religious identities. Children from these marriages are under their father’s control. Women escaping religious enslavement would have to abandon their own children.

In China, the Communist Party is taking control of Uyghur women’s bodies through forced birth control in the form of implants, involuntary sterilizations and pills, according to The New York Times and other outlets. Some women say they’ve been forced into giving up their faith and marrying Han Chinese men. They’re free to get pregnant in these marriages – with babies through whom their Muslim faith will not likely be passed on.

According to a report by Human Rights Watch, women say they have been raped repeatedly in prison and subject to genital torture with electric prods. Outside of prison, according to the rights group, Uyghur women’s reproduction is monitored by the local government. There are harsh punishments for unauthorized pregnancies, with violators being sent to reeducation camps. Unless removed by a state-approved medical practitioner, those who take out intrauterine devices – even for medical reasons – are subject to fines and imprisonment.

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