Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback who lead the Seminoles to an NCAA national championship as a freshman and won an Heisman Trophy, has a fallback plan. He has reportedly taken out a multimillion-dollar disability insurance policy in case illness or an injury results in him not being able to play again or getting drafted at a lower level than expected when he turns pro.
According to Yahoo Sports, the policy Winston acquired will provide him with $8 million to $10 million in coverage that would pay out if he's disabled or isn't selected in the top 10 in the 2015 NFL draft. The coverage may indicate that Winston is be preparing to turn pro even though his father has been quoted saying his son plans to play for two more seasons for the school while earning his degree.
Premiums on policies like Winston's can cost as much as $60,000. A spokesman for Florida State declined to comment for this story.
Winston's action is unusual because even most NFL players don't buy disability coverage despite the risk of injury from playing in what's by far America's most popular professional sport. Players are unwilling to pay for the coverage and are sometimes advised by their agents against buying it because of the cost. Only about 40 percent of players have disability insurance even though many careers are cut short by injury.
"Some of the disability insurance companies are offering some short-term loans to players who want coverage," said Storm Kirschenbaum, a sports agent based in Birmingham, Mich. Kirschenbaum represents baseball player but has had football player clients in the past. Buying such coverage makes sense for players who expect to be among the first chosen in the draft, he said.
As ESPN noted, the NCAA offers its own "elite insurance program" that caps coverage at $5 million and doesn't allow players to purchase insurance to compensate them for the loss of draft value.
The NFL provides limited disability coverage that offers benefits of about $180,000 after taxes, which some experts have said is insufficient. A federal judge rejected a $765 million settlement between the NFL and former players earlier this year regarding how the league handled concussions. Growing awareness of the dangers of head injuries is causing many parents to rethink letting their children play tackle football.
Former University of Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee, drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, had coverage similar to Winston's. According to Bleacher Report, he'll collect $5 million because he didn't get drafted in the first round, as many expected.
Winston, who at 19 became the youngest player to win the Heisman, had plenty of off-the-field challenges, including a sexual assault accusation that prosecutors declined to pursue.