More than 4,500 former NFL players have settled a $765 million lawsuit with the league. The money will be used to fund medical exams, pay out concussion-related compensation, and provide funds for new medical research.
Under terms of the deal, the agreement “cannot be consider an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.”
Most of the money, $675 million, will be used to compensate former players and the families of deceased players who have suffered from some type of cognitive injury. Baseline medical exams will also be offered with a cap of $75 million. Research and education will receive $10 million from the settlement.
The settlement capes Alzheimer’s disease at $5 million, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) at $4 million, and player dementia at $3 million.
While 4,500 players came forward, awards will be offered to any of the nearly 18,000 NFL players who retired before the court approved settlement date.
Half of the total amount to be paid must be handed over within three years, and the rest can be slowly paid over the next 17 years.
The district court must still determine how much compensation will be awarded to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Among the most famous plaintiffs in the case were former Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and famed Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. Perhaps the most well known voices of the lawsuit are the family of deceased Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau. Junior committed suicide last year and was found to be suffering from brain related injuries associated with CTE.
In a statement following the case, former United States District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator, said:
“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football.”
While plaintiff’s attorney Christopher Seeger added:
“This is an extraordinary agreement that will provide immediate care and support to retired players and their families. This agreement will get help quickly to the men who suffered neurological injuries. It will do so faster and at far less cost, both financially and emotionally, than could have ever been accomplished by continuing to litigate.”
NFL executive vice president Jeffrey Pash refused to place any blame on the NFL but did say the league was happy to help players and their families who suffered from the result of massive hits taken during their playing days. Pash writes:
“We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation. This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we’ve made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players.
Pash further writers:
“This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia wrote of the settlement decision:
“Of course, I reserve judgment on the fairness, reasonableness, and adequacy of thes ettlement until the motions for preliminary and final approval of the settlement are filed. At that time, counsel must present a complete explanation and justification for the settlement. Right now, however, I commend the parties and their counsel on their extensive and good faith negotiations and thank Judge Phillips for his diligence in assisting the parties in reaching an agreement.”
By choosing to settle the lawsuit the NFL will likely not disclose internal documents that may have shown a higher level of concussion based knowledge on behalf of the leagues investigators.
Do you think the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement is a fair payoff for retired players and their families?