With only a week before the beginning of the professional football season, the NFL has reached a $765 million settlement with former players who suffer from a variety of concussion-related brain injuries. The agreement includes compensation to victims for pain and suffering, as well as payment for medical exams, but the NFL will not admit to any wrongdoing.
The plaintiffs included some 4,500 former athletes, many suffering from dementia, depression, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological problems. They claimed the league concealed the dangers of concussions from jarring hits and rushing players back onto the field, while profiting from the spectacle it created.
The claims could not come at a worse time for football, as recent studies have shown that found that brain injuries are prevalent for many football players, and even sub-concussion injuries can cause serious harm. Even President Barack Obama has chimed in, telling reporters this past winter that if he had a son, he would have to think long and hard before letting him play football.
With the intense scrutiny from both the public and the lawsuit facing them, team owners and the NFL were eager to settle with the plaintiffs before the football season got underway. The plaintiffs were also eager to settle because many of them needed care immediately, and a drawn-out battle to prove the extent of damages could have taken years.
But not everybody is satisfied with the settlement. Some note that the payment plans per team will be about $1.5 million a year for 20 years, which is hardly a drop in the bucket for these franchises. The NFL and its teams have 20 years to pay out the $765 million, or about 0.5% of what the NFL is expected to make in revenue the next 20 years.
Additionally, others note that because the NFL admitted no wrongdoing, and because this will cut off any public litigation on the issue of concussions, an important public discussion will never happen. As the New York Times observed, the plaintiffs and the public deserve to know what the NFL knew and what the ramifications of football head injuries are.
For its part, the NFL claims that safety will not take a backseatnow that a settlement has been reached. Sport’s equipment manufacturer Riddell is still a defendant in the lawsuit.
For now, players will begin to receive much-needed medical care, including counseling. Additionally, players with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) are entitled to up to $5 million for pain and suffering, while players suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are entitled to up to $4 million. CTE is blamed for the suicide of linebacker Junior Seau last year.
Here at the Poppe Law Firm, we are diehard sports fans that love a good gridiron battle. But sometimes it takes a plaintiff to show that people come before profits. If you or someone you know has been catastrophically injured in a sport-related incident, please do not hesitate to contact us.