The heated conflict among retired players, their union, and the NFL over long-term injury benefits reached a fever pitch on Capitol Hill yesterday, with several former star athletes decrying bureaucratic hurdles that stop them from collecting money to help cover the expenses and limitations of debilitating injuries. "The NFL is considered to be the most brutal major American professional sports league. Half of all players retire because of injury, 60 percent of players suffer a concussion," said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., chairwoman of the subcommittee. "Is the NFL, a multi-billion dollar organization, fairly treating the employees who built it?"