The chairman of the NFL’s health and safety advisory committee said Tuesday that he and other league officials have been unable to obtain a survey from the players’ union dealing with players’ views of the health care provided to them by team physicians.
“I’ve never seen the survey,” John York, also the owner of the San Francisco 49ers, said at the annual league meeting in Phoenix. “There’s no one in the NFL that’s seen the survey. I don’t know what the questions were. I have no idea how many players were asked or what the responses were.”
Union officials said during Super Bowl week that players were surveyed late in the season. The union said it asked players to rate their trust in their teams’ medical staffs on a scale of 1 to 5. According to the union, 78 percent of the players surveyed responded 5, meaning not satisfied at all. An additional 15 percent responded 4; and 3 percent responded 1 or 2, according to the union. The union declined to specify how many players were surveyed.
York, a physician, referred to “a nonexistent survey that is giving data that is damaging” at one point during his comments Tuesday to a small group of reporters during a break in the meetings.
Asked directly later whether he believes the survey exists, York said: “Well, I’m told by DeMaurice Smith [the union’s executive director] that it exists. So if I say that it doesn’t exist, what’s that imply? So I’m not going to answer your question.”
In response to York’s comments, the union issued a written statement that said: “Coming from the organization that denied Joe Montana’s worker’s compensation benefits for years, we are not concerned about the remarks about our player survey. The day the NFL commits itself to taking care of players who have been injured at work is the day we begin to take these types of comments seriously.”
According to York, the current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union calls for the two sides to conduct a joint survey.
“In this particular CBA, we are obligated to do a survey that is jointly done, that we agree upon who’s going to do the testing, how the questions are going to be asked, who is going to do the analysis,” York said. “When you go and you report that there is a survey by only one of the entities, and that it is negative, I believe that you’ve muddied the waters so much that you can’t turn around in five minutes and do another one. So there needs to be some passage of time before we can do an honest and accurate survey.”