Former punter Craig Hentrich sues Titans in workers comp case

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 4:23pm

On its face, it's a fairly standard workers compensation case.

An employee, injured in the course of his job, is taken care of by employer. Employee retires and is certified as partially disabled as a result of his on-the-job injuries. Employee seeks benefits from his former employer via the state's review process, but the parties are unable to come to an agreement. Per the normal, everyday course of action, employee sues former employer in circuit court.

Most workers compensation claims, though, don't include phrases like "One such injury occurred during a Tennessee Titans' game with the Buffalo Bills on or about January 8, 2000. Plaintiff injured his cervical spine while making a tackle during a kickoff."

Former Titans punter Craig Hentrich is taking the team to court, seeking compensation for injuries sustained during the course of his career with the Tennessee Titans.

The initial back injury came during that 2000 playoff game against the Bills, famous for its dramatic kick return finale known to history as the Music City Miracle. Hentrich was injured making a tackle with 1:48 left in the game. The Titans had just kicked a field goal to go ahead 15-13 and on the ensuing kickoff, Hentrich tackled the returner at the Bills 39. The Bills would eventually kick a field goal to take a one-point lead, setting up the legendary "Home Run Throwback" from tight end Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson.

The lawsuit alleges Hentrich re-injured his neck and back multiple times over the next nine seasons and that the Titans met their obligations throughout his playing career; however, after his retirement, the injuries and the surgeries the punter underwent to rectify them resulted in doctors certifying Hentrich as partially disabled.

The team and Hentrich availed themselves of the state's benefit review process which "resulted in an impasse," leading to the circuit court filing.

Hentrich is seeking the statutory maximum payment for each injury, compensation for medical expenses, permanent disability benefits and for those benefits to be paid in a lump sum.

Hentrich's attorney, Gregg Ramos, said workers comp claims are common procedure for professional athletes and that he's handled dozens for Titans in the past. Usually, he said, team and player are able to resolve it without going to court, but "for whatever reason" it wasn't the case this time.

"This isn't about money, this about making sure these guys are being cared for in future years," he said. "The big thing is a claim entitles you to future benefits. Under the collective-bargaining agreement, the players are entitled to workers compensation under the laws where they play. It's real important because the former players are barely able to walk. … These guys may have serious injuries and they may need [medical care], and later on they really can't do that financially."

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7 Comments on this post:

By: T-BONE on 11/30/11 at 6:02

TITANS & PREDATORS..."Still screwing Nashville!

By: dargent7 on 12/1/11 at 5:03

I'm thinking of suing the Titans myself.
If they don't make the playoffs this year.
Even if they do.

By: Loner on 12/1/11 at 7:48

If a kicker can sue for damages, when it's illegal to "rough" the kicker, then running backs and receivers should be able to also sue the NFL for job-related disabilities.

Running backs and receivers sustain some of the worst kinds of injuries...it is rare for a kicker to get injured...they are protected by game rules. Kickers are not usually trained in tackling techniques; that could have been a contributing factor.

As a Bills fan, I hated to see those "miracle plays". But, if this man is disabled, then he ought to be compensated by the league and/or his team.

Football is just a game, it's not supposed to kill or maim the participants. I say, "Pay the man!"

By: Jughead on 12/1/11 at 8:03

Titans football is boring, and has been for years. YAWN...........who cares?

By: TITAN1 on 12/2/11 at 12:30

Jughead, with a screen name like yours, you must be manning fan.

By: Nitzche on 12/2/11 at 6:02

Gregg Ramos.......what a joke

By: dustywood on 12/5/11 at 9:49

should have bought his own disability insurance. He made enough to do so. I wonder if it was offered. I have disability insurance that I paid for on my own for many years. It has been worth it, now that I have had to use it. All of those injurys are not pleasent to have. Your life will be altered. But then that is football, hockey,etc.
Hope everything works out for him.