Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting

Published: Feb. 4, 2019 at 6:44 PM EST
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Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting Region 8, small market television WKYT Investigates | NCAA and medical insurance

Former All-American football player and University of Kentucky standout Mike Pfeifer wants the NCAA to pay for injuries college players suffer after they end their careers so they don't end up in his situation.

The former offensive tackle told WKYT from his home in Louisville he has paid more than $100,000 for his medical needs ever since his playing career ended.

"I've spent more money on the dag-gone injuries than my whole scholarship was worth," Pfeifer said. "It's ridiculous."

Pfeifer currently needs a knee replacement, and he knows exactly the play which caused him to need it.

"This was in '88 versus Alabama," he said, "Number 86 dove across and drove my calf muscle in the turf. We wore knee braces in those days, but the back of my calf had grass stains from where it was just driven into the ground and that blew the PCL ligament."

That season-ending knee injury happened in his junior year.

Pfeifer went into his senior season with high hopes of getting picked in the NFL Draft, but he broke a bone in his foot.

"My last year was in '89, and it's still broken to this day. So every step, I feel it," he said as he pointed to his left foot. Doctors told him he broke the slowest healing bone in the body.

The injuries have taken not just a physical toll, but also a financial one, as he had to sell his construction company and now works only when he can. Watching him walk looks painful. However, he doesn't regret a moment of his time at UK.

"Yeah, isn't that pitiful. I don't know," Pfeifer said, "I'd do it all again. Kind of insane."

But he does want to help the future football players. He wants the NCAA to have an insurance policy for players after their playing time.

"We're trying to get the NCAA to carry an insurance policy, so if this occurs they'll take care of it, post-playing days," he said

Pfeifer says there is currently a catastrophic policy from the NCAA, but the deductible is $90,000.

"I thought, 'we've got to come up with $90,000 before they pay a dime?' I thought 'man, that's an injustice.'"

WKYT reached out to the NCAA, but no one returned our request to discuss the organization's insurance policies.