The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

July 9, 2014

NFL deal helps hurting players

Why it matters: A federal judge adjusted a settlement for concussion related health problems to get NFL players reasonable compensation

Hundreds of thousands of NFL fans have benefitted from watching teams and players for years engaged in one of the most violent but most watched professional sports.

Now, it’s the players turn to benefit. Many suffered injuries during their playing years. Many are suffering head trauma related injuries in their retirement. Chicago Bears Super Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon suffers from dementia. Others suffer from memory loss. Some have died early from ailments related to their time playing football.

So it was fitting that federal judge Anita Brody recently adjusted a settlement proposal between the players and the NFL to compensate players at a higher overall level and help pay for medical expenses many are sure to incur now and in the future.

The judge eliminated a cap on the total settlement amount, but kept in place a formula for compensating players with varying degrees of health problems. While the total amount could go over the previous $675 million cap, elderly NFL vets who say see memory loss in the 80s would be compensated a minimal amount of $25,000. A young player developing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (ALS) could get up to as much as $5 million. The compensation would be based their age and illness of the players.

There will also be money set aside for baseline testing of neurological problems, education, research and $100 million for player legal fees. Claims can be paid for up to 65 years.

Critics point to the NFL’s $10 billion in annual revenue and argue the settlement is not enough. But plaintiff lawyers, representing some 4,500 players, described it as an “extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families.” Without a settlement, players could also be engaged in protracted legal fights in individual cases that might not all go their way.

The NFL thanked Judge Brody for her insight. They too seem to realize the gravity of the situation and the large impact the effects of this violent game will have on players and their families well into the future.

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