The NFL Draft is one of the most anticipated events in sports year after year, with draft projections kicking into high gear only a few weeks after the previous season’s event is wrapped up. Of course, nobody realistically knows where players will be drafted so far in advance – it’s less likely for a college football player to stay at the top of draft projections for an entire year than just about any other sport – but the reasons why a fall could happen vary. It could be due to a naturally occurring drop-off in talent during a junior season, a change of positions or responsibilities due to a coaching change, or most tragically, a potentially career-ending injury.
While there’s no certain way to protect vulnerable ACL’s or a fragile tibia or the group of ligaments around a knee, there is a way to protect college players from losing out on the hundreds of thousands of dollars that may be at risk for a top NFL prospect every time they suit up for a game. Similar to models who insure their legs, singers who protect their vocal chords, or top-tier surgeons who insure their life-giving hands, there are insurance policies available to players planning to go pro that would protect at least a piece of their future earning potential should things go catastrophically wrong.
While these policies might not be able to replace the feeling of being chosen in the first round of a draft or stepping on a football field as a pro player for the first time, they serve as a practical buffer that cushions crushing disappointment with a financial nest egg. Players taking out career protection policies is one of the more coldly practical facets of the most popular sport in America, and a complicated one at that.
The practice is on the rise though. The first time casual football fans probably heard about a high-profile case of this practice was when Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, drafted out of Oregon in the seventh round by the Cleveland Browns in 2015, collected a sweet $3 million thanks to a loss of value policy secured in advance of his senior season.
Since then, many fans understand the general concept of the situation if not exactly how everything breaks down when it comes to reimbursing an injured player for lost earning potential or draft bonuses. Most recently, Jake Butt made news when it was reported that he would be taking home upwards of half a million dollars after falling to the fifth round due to a torn ACL. But contrary to what Darren Rovell’s tweets would have you think, insurance protection for top college athletes isn’t cut and dry.