The weekend injury of Georgia’s Todd Gurley once again shines a spotlight on the precarious arrangement that Black kids enter into with big-time college sports.
For generations, these kids have looked at moving up to pro sports as a path to a better life. It was not exactly a thorough plan, but it worked in countless cases, despite its single-mindedness.
A comprehensive Plan B always has been needed, which should have started with making use of that college athletic scholarship by taking serious the academic opportunity and enhancing job marketability.
Some have done so; too many have not.
We are now seeing the emergence of a Plan C for the elite athlete: an insurance policy on that body that pro franchises covet and can bring millions to a family.
It’s a relatively new phenomenon, insurance.
But it showed Saturday night that it is valuable, literally. It was a sad occasion, when Gurley went down with five minutes left in the Bulldogs’ victory over Auburn—a torn ACL that likely ends his career at UGA. It certainly impacts his financial future.
But he was covered.
A sure-first first-round NFL draft choice—he was projected the eighth pick in an ESPN mock draft—Gurley now will fall significantly, meaning with every team that passes over him—and there will be many—he loses millions. But he will not be destitute by a long shot, however his career plays out.
He was projected in some mock drafts as the No. 8 pick in the April draft, meaning his financial future would have been set.
Eerily, Forbes‘ Marc Edelman wrote on Friday, a day before Gurley was injured: “Todd Gurley has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by returning to college football… If Gurley does return, he not only delays … opportunities, but risks losing them forever. Indeed, a single injury over the next several weeks could derail an NFL career, hurt his draft status, or destroy his marketability on even the endorsement market.”
Sources told ESPN.com that Georgia increased Gurley’s insurance policy to $10 million in coverage—$5 million for total disability if Gurley got injured and never played again and $5 million in loss of value insurance, which would kick in if Gurley injured himself and slipped in the draft.
Gurley previously had $5 million in total disability and $2.5 million in loss of value insurance. The policy was written by International Specialty Insurance.
Sources say that Gurley would start to collect on his loss of value insurance if he slipped out of the first round. He would collect the full $5 million if he somehow went undrafted. He also could collect $5 million if the injury prevented him from ever playing again.
Now here’s the really interesting part: Georgia paid between $50,000 and $60,000 for the policy—the least it could do considering what Gurley’s talents brought to the program. Amazingly, the hold-the-athlete-under-our-thumb NCAA started allowing schools to pay such policies, most of which have been paid for through the Student Assistance Fund. The fund allows schools to pay for certain items for athletes in need, including insurance.
No one would like to have to use insurance to secure financial stability. And there would be nothing like playing in the NFL and becoming a star and earning the money on the field, enduring the battles. But having the insurance makes dealing with injury that much easier to accept, and still provides that escape that was sought as a youth.