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Hunter Hillenmeyer battling NFL, Bears for $900,000

hillenmeyer Getty Images

The issue of concussions is at the heart of another fight between a former NFL player and the league.

Former Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer is battling the NFL and the Bears for $900,000 he believes he’s owed after the team released him in 2011. Doctors, including the independent neurological consultant for the Bears, recommended Hillenmeyer retire after suffering several concussions and the Bears let him go one month later. Hillenmeyer had a contract worth $1.8 million for the 2011 season and he and the NFLPA think the CBA mandates that he receive half that amount.

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Article 45 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement seems to cover just this scenario. It calls for players to receive half their base salary, up to $1 million, if they have “been physically unable, because of a severe football injury in an NFL game or practice, to participate in all or part of his club’s last game of the season of injury.” Hillenmeyer was on injured reserve as a result of a concussion at the end of the 2010 season, but his claim for half his salary was denied.

“It makes me sick to see (the league) claim it is driving concussion research and putting player safety first,” Hillenmeyer told Biggs. “The whole system is designed to do one thing: make owners money. The fact that a case as black and white as mine can’t even get resolved is indicative of a much, much deeper truth. Owners know what the game is doing to players, but once they fully acknowledge it, the gig is up.”

The Bears wouldn’t comment and Hillenmeyer said he thinks they were following league orders when they denied his claim. The NFLPA recently sent a memo to agents warning them that multiple teams were denying claims of this nature because “the NFL has taken the position that once the player’s current symptoms dissipate and once his scores on cognitive tests have returned to baseline, he can be released with no obligation on the part of the club to pay his continued salary or Injury Protection payments.” Citing lawyer’s orders, Hillenmeyer wouldn’t discuss any concussion symptoms he’s still experiencing but history has told us that they have a habit of lingering long after the player has stopped playing.

Whether or not that’s true in this case is unknown, but with ongoing litigation on several fronts you can be sure the concussion issue isn’t going away any time soon.

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37 Responses to “Hunter Hillenmeyer battling NFL, Bears for $900,000”
  1. rashardmendenballs says: Jan 28, 2012 6:19 PM

    For all of you Roger Goodell slappies, would this make Roger Goodell the biggest Hypocrite on the face of the earth?!?

  2. frownifdown says: Jan 28, 2012 6:21 PM

    Well I don’t blame him. Players get screwed over left and right.

    Also, I had know idea he got released.

  3. flightb0ys says: Jan 28, 2012 6:21 PM

    I honestly forgot about hillenmeyer. Too bad for his concussions, I thought he was gonna be something special. Was overshadowed by urlacher & Briggs.

  4. hedleykow says: Jan 28, 2012 6:21 PM

    If this sets a precedent in the case of back-pay for mental damage, then Terry Bradshaw could potentially become a billionaire.

  5. talkintrashallday says: Jan 28, 2012 6:24 PM

    they won’t pay Forte either…stay classy bears

  6. mnajb says: Jan 28, 2012 6:25 PM

    The NFL is designed to make its owners money!!!!???!!!

  7. uberniner says: Jan 28, 2012 6:29 PM

    This seems pretty cut and dried. The NFL should tell the Bears to pay and adopt a new policy to pay in cases like these.

    Shame on you, Goddell. Shame on you, Bears.

  8. uberniner says: Jan 28, 2012 6:33 PM

    Yes, and also, the league should get better, more protective helmets on the field ASAP. They might be ugly, but not as ugly as a big lawsuit.

  9. purplengold says: Jan 28, 2012 6:38 PM

    Concussions are injuries. The long-term problems continue once the current symptoms, as defined by the NFL-approved cognitive tests, dissipate.

  10. orangeflh says: Jan 28, 2012 6:40 PM

    rashardmendenballs says:
    Jan 28, 2012 6:19 PM

    For all of you Roger Goodell slappies, would this make Roger Goodell the biggest Hypocrite on the face of the earth?!?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    As soon as I read the article in which Gruden used the term “slappies” I was wondering who would be the first “really cool NFL insider type guy” to use it in the comments here. Congratulations. You’re the winner.

  11. snarkzilla says: Jan 28, 2012 6:41 PM

    Riddell because it’s swell and is the official NFL helmet and the league gets paid. Nevermind it sucks for concussion protection.

  12. trbowman says: Jan 28, 2012 6:44 PM

    “rashardmendenballs says:
    Jan 28, 2012 6:19 PM
    For all of you Roger Goodell slappies, would this make Roger Goodell the biggest Hypocrite on the face of the earth?!?”

    No. Another Steeler fan who’s upset his dirty team gets flagged?

  13. barklikeadog says: Jan 28, 2012 6:50 PM

    Are you allowed to cut and paste off of CBS sports site?

  14. realitypolice says: Jan 28, 2012 6:54 PM

    People wonder why players chase the money and don’t show “loyalty” to their organizations.

    This guy spills his blood for 9 years for them, and the team, worth billions, stiffs him out of a measly 900k on a technicality, just because they know they can get away with it.

  15. freemantowilliams says: Jan 28, 2012 6:59 PM

    This is just sad. Give the man his money for crying out loud. 900k to the NFL is like a late night run to taco bell for us normies. This whole concussion issue definitely sucks for the players but in the long run this is just gonna end up costing the fans more money. It’s not that I don’t mind because this is people’s life were talking about. Just do the right thing.

  16. dfeltz says: Jan 28, 2012 7:05 PM

    Hope he gets it. Always liked Hillenmeyer, sure tackler.

  17. cappa662 says: Jan 28, 2012 7:15 PM

    Pay the man.

  18. nflfootballjunkie says: Jan 28, 2012 7:42 PM

    If he is owed money, then he should be paid. That aside, stop playing victim, if you wanted to avoid concussions you should have chosen a different line of work.

  19. beedubyatoo says: Jan 28, 2012 7:54 PM

    Hillenmeyer graduated from Vanderbilt, which means that he is smarter than anyone else in the Bears’ organization. Bears better pay the man before he gets another Vanderbilt grad for his lawyer and it costs the Bears millions.

  20. philtration says: Jan 28, 2012 8:10 PM

    talkintrashallday says: Jan 28, 2012 6:24 PM

    they won’t pay Forte either…stay classy bears
    ==================================

    Did you make the same kind of comment about the Colts pooping all over Peyton Manning?

    The Bears actually want Forte back.

  21. rcali says: Jan 28, 2012 8:10 PM

    Warning to all future NFL players, it’s a dangerous sport that will leave you in bad shape in your older years but with a little luck and financial smarts, you’ll only have to work 10 years for the rest of your life.

  22. philtration says: Jan 28, 2012 8:11 PM

    beedubyatoo says: Jan 28, 2012 7:54 PM

    Hillenmeyer graduated from Vanderbilt, which means that he is smarter than anyone else in the Bears’ organization. Bears better pay the man before he gets another Vanderbilt grad for his lawyer and it costs the Bears millions.
    =================================
    The Bears have three more Vanderbilt players on their roster.

  23. zn0rseman says: Jan 28, 2012 8:31 PM

    So let me get this straight…

    The Bears cut Hillenmeyer, a stud Linebacker, and no other team in the NFL made a waiver claim on him because they all knew that his NFL career was over due to his injuries.

    But when it comes to paying Hillenmeyer his injury settlement, the Bears and the NFL are claiming that his career was not cut short because of an injury?!?

    Sure… and cigarettes don’t cause lung cancer.

  24. zo121179 says: Jan 28, 2012 8:55 PM

    Did great work while Urlacher was hurt. Was sad to see him go.

  25. beastup22 says: Jan 28, 2012 9:59 PM

    Screw Goodell and his b.s. Player safety talk.

  26. eagler927 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:09 PM

    What a joke. Let’s see the NFL spin this one. I will not believe one thing spewed by Goodell and company when it comes to concussions until they pay guys who retire with concussion issues.

    How about the bs about not paying them because eventually they will get better and have no symptoms..meaning they could then return to the league as a player. Yeah some guy sits out a couple of seasons with concussion symptoms…as if he’s ever going to come back and play. Total freaking hypocrites!

  27. tone360 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:24 PM

    Pulling for Hunter on this one. But as far as dogging the Bears… The article flat said they were told by the league not to pay as to not set precedent/past practice, so all your “classy” organizations can save face as they dismiss their injured. Pfffft!

  28. fordmandalay says: Jan 28, 2012 10:26 PM

    The bigger and more protective the helmets, the more players will feel comfortable with continuing to lead with their heads in tackles, and hit with full speed. They’ll feel indestructible. I honestly feel the NFL should go back to old time leather helmets, then the players will be more cautious.

    Hey, the current system ain’t working.

  29. doredevil says: Jan 28, 2012 10:33 PM

    Hillenmeyer grew up in the neighborhood where I live, and they say he’s a great guy.
    A correction to what was posted above: the Bears still have four Vandy guys (3 of whom graduated): Cutler, Bennett, Williams and Moore.

  30. binarybulge says: Jan 29, 2012 12:07 AM

    Players don’t have to wait for the NFL to switch helmet manufacturers before they can have something more safe. There are quite a few documented cases of players opting for a safer helmet, as long as the non-Riddell logo is obstructed. If these are truly professionals we’re talking about, they are well aware their options.

    Players who won’t be proactive and switch to a more protective helmet are partially to blame for their eventual demise.

  31. philtration says: Jan 29, 2012 12:09 AM

    doredevil says: Jan 28, 2012 10:33 PM

    Hillenmeyer grew up in the neighborhood where I live, and they say he’s a great guy.
    A correction to what was posted above: the Bears still have four Vandy guys (3 of whom graduated): Cutler, Bennett, Williams and Moore.
    =================================

    Right.
    As soon as I posted it I remembered that D.J. Moore was a Vanderbilt guy but since I was drinking beers and did not care enough to correct it I just let it go.

  32. georgevisger says: Jan 29, 2012 12:16 AM

    The NFL knows full well how much “better” we get after concussions. I know I am feeling much better after my 9th emergency VP Shunt brain surgery since being injured with the 49ers during the 81 Super Bowl season.

    It’s amazing how much better I’m functioning. Guess it could also be attributed to all the gran mal seizures I’ve had.

    George Visger
    SF 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  33. hodag54501 says: Jan 29, 2012 8:09 AM

    Makes me wonder about the NFLPA’s strength. This looks like a cut-and-dried case that would be easily winnable in a court of law. Notice how the union talks solidarity during contract time, but once one of their own stops playing, they rarely know who he is?
    Players understand the chance of injury when they take the field, but the owners rarely seem to want to acknowledge their side of the deal: the players are risking their careers and bodies on every snap of the ball.
    900K is a lot of cash, but the Bears have been known to be among the ultimate cheapskates and this shows.

  34. doredevil says: Jan 29, 2012 8:56 AM

    Understood. beer drinking does that.

    Seems to me people forget how good D.J. Moore is. Second team All-American at CB, and only college player ever known to have had 2 picks and 2 TD receptions in the same game.

  35. jwmb says: Jan 29, 2012 11:05 AM

    Always liked Hillenmeyer, and it sure sounds like he should get paid here. Classification of him as a “stud linebacker” is way off though. At his peak he was a solid, if unspectacular.

  36. doredevil says: Jan 29, 2012 10:55 PM

    FWIW, a little Hillenmeyer trivia: he went to the same high school (Montgomery Bell Academy) and college (Vanderbilt), both in Nashville, as did the winner of today’s PGA tournament (Brandt Snedeker).

  37. wskaye says: Jan 30, 2012 3:36 AM

    If setting a bad precedent is the issue this can be easily resolved.Hunter should offer to settle privately for $ 900K.The settlement should state explicitly that the amount being paid bears no relationship to any injuries allegedly suffered during his playing days.No fuss,no disclosure,and HH gets his money.

    I didn’t need to be a Vanderbilt Law alum to figure this one out.

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