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Tom Brady, Drew Brees co-author column in favor of workers' comp for athletes

Under the proposed bill, Drew Brees wouldn't be eligible for workers' comp in California despite playing five seasons for the Chargers. (Michael Conroy/AP) Under the proposed bill, Drew Brees wouldn't be eligible for workers' comp in California despite playing five seasons for the Chargers. (Michael Conroy/AP)

Call it Tom Brady and Drew Brees v. the state of California.

A proposed bill in California, AB1309, would change the workers' compensation rules specific to professional athletes in that state. MercuryNews.com describes the gist of the bill: "Workers' compensation claims would have to be filed within a year of an athlete's final game or of a physician diagnosing the condition, whichever is later. Players retiring from out-of-state teams would still be allowed to file claims if they spent 80 percent of their career with a California team." Players who finished their careers on out-of-state teams also could file workers' comp requests if they played eight or more seasons for a California NFL team.

Here's the proposed bill in its entirety, if you'd like to pick through it.

The bill has stirred heated debate, including from the NFLPA, which has voiced its firm opposition. On Monday, Brady and Brees reiterated that stance in a co-bylined guest column for the San Francisco Chronicle (the article is behind a paywall on SFChronicle.com).

It begins:

We play for different professional football teams, we have won our share of games, and we have been fortunate to play this game for longer than the average four-year career. We are very well compensated and play a game that we love in front of the greatest fans in the world. We also know first-hand what injuries mean in the NFL.

Brady and Brees also write that AB1309 "unfairly targets professional athletes by attempting to classify them differently than other interstate workers" and that "There is no good reason for professional athletes to be singled out."

Should the bill pass, Brees would be one of the current players blocked from filing for workers' comp in California -- he played five seasons with the San Diego Chargers (three fewer than required by the proposed bill), before joining the New Orleans Saints.

Brady, meanwhile, has played his whole career with the New England Patriots, but he is a native of San Mateo, Calif. He also has been front-and-center for the NFLPA on legal matters before, namely in a 2011 lawsuit filed against the NFL in an attempt to end the lockout.

The California state Assembly passed the bill by a 61-4 count earlier this year. It is currently awaiting a vote there.

TROTTER: States, ex-players trying to level playing field on workers comp

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