|It was only a practice session, but when Titans defensive end Shawn Johnson moved in to tackle a rookie running back, he knew right away he was seriously injured.|
Though he eased up in reaction to the pain, the rookie kept coming with full force.
“It was horrific,” said Johnson, who said he could see the ball joint of his shoulder bulging through the skin.
Johnson was first drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2004, but after a knee injury there, he signed on as a free agent with the Titans the next year. But his football career came to an abrupt end during training camp on July 31, 2005.
Johnson says the only way he has been able to survive is from the workers’ compensation claim he filed with the state of Tennessee, which netted a one-time award payment of $230,000. But changes in workers’ compensation, both in Tennessee and around the country, have created new challenges for workers seeking help, including former pro athletes.
Records show that some two dozen former Titans have filed such claims in Tennessee, while many more have sought compensation in California because it has more worker-friendly compensation laws. Some of the former Titans are well known, including Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Matthews.
Others, like Johnson, suffered career-ending injuries without playing in a single regular-season...