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'Players' safety first, economic freedom second' McNair family calls for a focus shift in NIL law

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 19:08:04-04

BALTIMORE — By now, we've all heard about the excitement surrounding college athletes being paid for their name, image, and likeness.

Jordan McNair's father Marty McNair fears health and wellness for athletes are losing priority as the focus shifts to finances.

In just a few short weeks, college athletes have been able to ink some pretty impressive deals for what they do on the playing field which leaves the family of Jordan McNair wth a simple question, "How can you pay athletes without prioritizing their safety?"

Players' safety first, economic freedom second," McNair briefly said as he began outlining some of his frustrations.

Marty McNair has been clear about his priorities since losing his son to a heat related illness on the football field in 2018.

He's been a strong voice for athletes and their rights but he feels the order of granting those rights on the federal side has been backwards.

"What about the mental health aspects of this as well? what about the emotional aspects and god forbid you get an injury that can be debilitating or something to that nature these are the things that need to be focused on first," said McNair.

"I'm still adamant about the actual health and safety component of these bills," he expressed.

He tells WMAR the issue that brought him to the table and onto the national stage has still gone unaddressed.

He fears, without implementing notable provisions for athletes into law on the federal level, life altering injuries will persist, players' rights will be ignored and ultimately predatory deals will stem from athletes' lack of financial literacy.

Those are 3 outcomes he refuses to watch unfold from the sidelines.

"If we don't continuously advocate for a health and safety component of the bill and return to play and i mean guaranteed scholarships and all of the things that kind of go along with this, i think that this will be somewhat of a, i hate to say disastrous but a learning lesson for us all, a negative learning lesson for us all," he said.

McNair says for the federal NIL law to be passed so quickly, some crucial factors likely went unconsidered like the importance of pairing these endorsement opportunities with training in finance for example.

"I just think that it was so much that needed to be done in preparation for it and I think they literally took all of that off the table," said McNair.

He believes before the federal NIL laws went into effect the State of Maryland was on its way to leading the country in how it protects college athletes placing wealth after health.

Now he tells us he's hopeful Maryland's new law cam act as a national model for baseline standards for athletes across the country.