INDIANAPOLIS, Ind (Jan. 11, 2016)- Former first round draft pick and Colts quarterback Art Schlichter is suing for his NFL benefits.
He claims he is entitled to pension and health benefits for the time he played in the league because he is living with the lasting effects of football-related brain injuries.
Love him or hate him, Schlichter’s attorney says this lawsuit is not about Schlichter's off-the-field troubles, rather, it’s about helping a man who suffered over a dozen concussions while playing professional football.
Schlichter was a standout quarterback at Ohio State and the 1982 first round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts. He was expected to be the quarterback of the future for the franchise. However, the Colts drafted a man who was overcome by his compulsive gambling addiction. Schlichter was suspended during the 1983 season and he took his last snap by 1986.
"I want to make those people pay who should pay and that’s in part the NFL," said Schlichter's attorney, Dan Chamberlain.
Chamberlain is the former chair of the Indiana chapter of the Brain Injury Association of America. He’s also the local attorney who recently filed a lawsuit on Schlichter’s behalf.
"He should be entitled to that benefit and that eligible season," said Chamberlain.
The suit claims the ex-Colt deserves compensation for his time in the NFL. According to court records, Schlichter suffered roughly 15 concussions and he now lives with Parkinson's Disease.
"I’m not only trying to collect benefits for him but for others players and there’s going to be more lawsuits to come because frankly they’re entitled to it," said Chamberlain.
In order to qualify for the NFL retirement plan and be eligible for pensions, healthcare and dementia benefits, an NFL player must be active for at least four years. Chamberlain argues that Schlichter should be credited for the 1983 season even though he was suspended. Chamberlain says Schlichter was technically under contract at the time.
"I’m not excusing his conduct at all but what I’m saying is there is a reasonable belief that it got so much worse because of the 14 times he got knocked unconscious," said Chamberlain.
Currently, Schlichter is serving time in federal prison for a ticket fraud scheme reportedly worth millions.
"He will get out of jail, and when he gets out of jail he is entitled to those benefits," said Chamberlain.