John Welbourn: Fighting with the Eagles

Jul 1, 2010

 John WelbournHi Dave -


I have no idea how I first started getting e-mail updates from your blog but am glad I do as I enjoy reading your site.


My name is John Welbourn. I’m a 9-year veteran of the NFL. I got drafted in 1999 to the Philadelphia Eagles and played there 5 years then went to the Kansas City Chiefs for 4 years. My final year in 2008, I was with New England in training camp. After reading your blog and the plight of so many desperate players that have been forgotten and left to rot by the NFL and our Union, I thought I would offer a story that happened to me. Not as great a hardship as many of you have profiled here on the blog but equally appalling.


I was injured in Philadelphia on more than a few occasions playing on the “Old Vet” turf. My final injury was a right knee injury where I tore my lateral meniscus and was forced to have surgery. I worked with Ned Urlich, a Pennsylvania Workman’s Comp lawyer, to file a claim on my right knee. Ned battled the Eagles for years and while I was in KC, I finally received notice I had been granted lifetime medical benefits on my right knee and most of my lower leg. Ned was great throughout the process and I recommend anyone who has a problem in Pennsylvania to contact Ned.


After I left New England, I was having trouble with a piece of calcified bone that had lodged itself in my right knee joint. I approached a doctor to do a clean out and shaving down some bone to make the situation “manageable.” To make a long story short, the doctor accepts the case, does the surgery and then begins to process the claim with the Eagles and their insurance carrier, Gulf Insurance Company. The doctor was met with the runaround, dropped calls, denials and finally my favorite: that I was never an employee of the Eagles! For two years, we have been chasing the insurance company and the Philadelphia Eagles to pay for the surgery to fix an injury while playing on the green concrete they called Veteran’s Stadium. We have only been met with closed doors from the Eagles and their carrier time and time again.


Actually, I have thought many times that any player who played for the Eagles or was forced to play in the Vet should be part of a class action suit against the NFL and the Eagles for making us play on that crap. The unsafe working conditions we were forced into by management, the NFL and our Union are unconscionable.


Good thing I am in good health and have taken every precaution to keep my knee healthy because if I had to depend on this “lifetime” medical benefit, I’d be in trouble.


John Welbourn

Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots

1999 – 2008


2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave & Heidi Pear
    July 2nd, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    Dave at Home
    Welcome to retirement in the NFL, John! We can only hope that your battle for benefits doesn’t take the 30+ years or longer that so many of us older veterans of the game have had to fight.

    The more stories we uncover, the clearer it becomes to the public that the NFL is an equal opportunity abuser. They have absolutely no prejudices when it comes to their abuse: young or old, black or white, stars or grunts. The majority of us get thrown under the bus when the game is over.

    We have long suspected that the NFL continues its evil ways not so much out of the sheer arrogance of the old days when they could get away with it but more out of the fear that if they change, it will be an open admission of guilt. And it is this fear that drives them to continue this lack of respect for those who built this game with their passion and their bodies.

    The Groom Law Group wrote the plan and also represented BOTH the NFL AND the NFLPA until recently when the PA supposedly let them go. If another law firm were brought in to defend the plan, they might very well find it to be completely indefensible. Until there is disability and pension reform along with real medical care after we retire, nothing else will matter to retired players. Nothing.

    Dave & Heidi Pear

  2. Greg Davis
    July 2nd, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    Greg Davis
    Dave, I have enjoyed your site.

    I’ve also been denied benefits, have been on hold in California Workers Comp court for 3 years, have gone bankrupt, lost my home and have had the Federal Government sic’ed on me as well. I played 12 years and suffer multiple degenerative ailments, including closed head trauma.

    I was a player rep who filed a grievance and won while I was with the Cardinals. I was then fired that year in season as soon as I missed a field goal and also was audited by the State of Georgia for taxes (I was cleared). It just so happened that Bidwell’s son was a US attorney at the time… No, they don’t play fair but they certainly leave a nice trail of incredulous activity to follow. I had five teammates die in season while I played and am watching others drop dead at ripe old ages stretching into their mid- to late 40’s!

    This is getting too big to hide with too many favors and wink-and-nod actions on their part to maintain any form of credibility.

    Greg Davis
    Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals
    Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders
    1987 – 1998