AUSTIN (CN) – “Mean Gene” Atkins sued the NFL Player Retirement Plan in Federal Court, claiming it unfairly denied him disability payments for injuries he suffered during 10 years as a cornerback and safety. Atkins said the retirement board falsely claims his shoulder, neck and head injuries are not related to football.
Atkins also claims that the NFL’s appeals board violated its own regulations by denying him “a full and fair review of denied claims.”
He says he gets $2,500 in NFL disability per month, half of which goes to his ex-wife, though the NFL pays its retired executives, “most of whom, during their working days, earned far less than most NFL players … in the neighborhood of $20,000 per month.”
Atkins played cornerback and safety for the Saints and Dolphins from 1987 through 1996, and also returned punts and kickoffs. He repeatedly dislocated his shoulder and had to have a pin inserted to hold it in place. Now he can’t lift his right arm “more than 90 degrees to either side” and has chronic pain. He also has chronic pain at the base of his head and neck that radiates through his arms and hands, making things “feel like plastic. Everything I touch feels numb and I drop objects I try and pick up. Unbearable pain most days. I had several stingers while playing but did not feel any affects until I turned 38 years old,” his complaint states.
He also says he suffers “moos swings because of my inability to function without constant pain,” and “depression over the physical condition of my body and not being able to work.”
He says his own orthopedic specialist diagnosed the injuries as results of his football career, and injuries suffered in it.
Atkins is represented by Jaffrey Dahl with Harkins, Latimer & Dahl of San Antonio.