NFL settles class-action concussion lawsuit for $765 million

posted at 8:11 pm on August 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

NFL fans know that the league began taking the long-term effect of concussions seriously a few seasons ago, after former players began a campaign of activism, while some filed a class-action lawsuit.  The two sides reached an agreement today that will cost the NFL more than three-quarters of a billion dollars, and which will spend most of its money on payments to former players for their complications:

Thousands of former football players, and their families, have reached a settlement with the National Football League in a lawsuit that put concussions, and their impact on the brain, on trial.

The deal, which is still pending approval by a U.S. district judge, would provide $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses. …

The settlement includes a $675 million fund set up to compensate players who have suffered brain injury, or their families; a maximum of $75 million for medical exams; and $10 million devoted to research and education. The rest of the settlement would be devoted to legal fees and the cost of administering funds to plaintiffs.

The lawsuit was prompted by what former players contend was a deliberate attempt to mislead the public and current players about the dangers of the game. The NFL had created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, which allegedly pushed false data and hid scientific research in order to hide the risks of repeated concussions.  The settlement does not require the NFL to admit any wrongdoing, but the amount of cash being ponied up now more than suggests that those claims made by the MTBI panel in the past are at the very least no longer functional.  For that matter, so does the sudden urge to change the rules to penalize helmet-to-helmet hits and protect defenseless players in the middle of a catch or a pass.

CNN includes this sad coda:

Meanwhile, the impact of the settlement may never fully register for former players like Fred McNeil, who is in the throes of early dementia.

McNeil, who has not yet shared the news of the lawsuit with Fred, says she can predict his reaction.

“I think he will pay attention for a minute, say ‘Oh wow,’ and then not really think about it until someone brings it up again,” she said. “It’s not something he’ll remember tomorrow.”

The league and the NFLPA should seriously consider the option of scaling down the pads and helmets, especially for defensive players.  The less they cocoon themselves, the less they will see themselves as guided missiles, and the more they may learn to get their heads out of the way of a hit.


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Would love to have Art Donovan’s take on this one.

Bmore on August 29, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Next they’ll tell us smokin’s bad for you, too.

LtGenRob on August 29, 2013 at 8:18 PM

How can this end? If the sport goes on, they will be paying reparations in perpetuity.

rickv404 on August 29, 2013 at 8:21 PM

The NFL paid pennies on the dollar AND stretched it out over 20 years… just plain evil…

Khun Joe on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

football fans should feel partly responsible for this.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

There is no personal responsibility anymore. We live in a culture where anything that happens to you is always someone else’s fault and the lawyers are there to help you get what “you deserve.”

How sad.

BierManVA on August 29, 2013 at 8:28 PM

I broke my arm jumping off the school swing set 40 years ago.

I’d like a Lamborghini. Do I qualify?

patman77 on August 29, 2013 at 8:31 PM

The NFL is culpable for hiding information that they had.

But the risks inherent in the sport is not the fault of the NFL anymore than any kind of professional boxing association.

If players were told they could only play, say, five years max at certain positions, or that they’d be out after the first concussion, they’d be suing over that.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 29, 2013 at 8:33 PM

The less they cocoon themselves, the less they will see themselves as guided missiles, and the more they may learn to get their heads out of the way of a hit.

Once NHL players started wearing helmets cheap shots and reckless hits became more prevalent. There’s been plenty people in hockey that think along the same lines as Ed. The players feel invincible and they play with reckless abandon.

Flange on August 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

There’s something fishy in Denmark… My local team, the high school I played for; said that they had 22 concussions last year. I don’t remember one concussion from when I played and I’m a big guy, who hit hard and took hard hits. I think they’ve either lowered the bar or there is something else going on. And I know it’s not because the kids are stronger because they all look quite small comparatively speaking. Something is going on here… One thing they say football makes them more violent… I say violent, aggressive and dominant personalities are probably drawn to a violent sport.

Kaptain Amerika on August 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

football fans should feel partly responsible for this.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

I blame Bush!!!

whatcat on August 29, 2013 at 8:46 PM

NFL got off way to easy. More $ (they’ll make it up real quick) and release what they knew and when.

rbj on August 29, 2013 at 8:48 PM

I don’t even enjoy college and NFL football that much anymore because it is so much Bread and Circuses while the Communists take over and our country goes down the crapper. On the other hand, there’s not much I can do about it, and a diversion once in a while isn’t going to make things any worse I suppose.

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 29, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Who could have ever figured out that if you play football you might get your bell rung?

whatcat on August 29, 2013 at 8:55 PM

LOL you play a high contact sport and your bound to get stuff like this just the same as water is wet.

watertown on August 29, 2013 at 8:55 PM

As someone who played football at the high school and college level, just wanted to add my two cents.

Pads never made me feel invincible, or even particularly well protected. You got hurt (not injured) too much to feel like they did. I was an offensive lineman, so I never needed to be particularly fast, but the skilled players would actually remove pads or cut them down to decrease weight and increase speed and flexibility. But they had to wear them because the NCAA said so. Defensive linemen hated the knee braces we were required to wear. They were quite heavy and restrictive of motion. Basically, protective gear was viewed more as a burden to work around than any type of advantage.

As to concussions, I can only think of one I saw over the four years I played in college. Of course…who knows if my memory is reliable at this point… ;-)

irishgladiator63 on August 29, 2013 at 8:56 PM

They should sue greenhouse gas emitters next, since there’s been (or if there hasn’t been, some Leftist “scientists” can certainly create) a correlation between the rise in AGW and rise in NFL concussions, right?

The “hockey stick” was the right idea, but wrong sport …

ShainS on August 29, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Also, this debate was held when Teddy Roosevelt was President. The liberals wanted to do away with football because it was too dangerous. A few dozen people died every year. The solution? Wear helmets and pads. So less protective equipment may not be the answer.
(For the record, TR told the liberals to man up.)

irishgladiator63 on August 29, 2013 at 9:06 PM

Tweets All / No replies

The Associated Press ‏@AP 1h

How the #NFL concussion settlement will work: http://apne.ws/17pNkoh -KH
View summary
=====================

Mediator Q&A on NFL concussion settlement
By The Associated Press
— Aug. 29 7:05 PM EDT
*********************

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/mediator-qa-nfl-concussion-settlement

canopfor on August 29, 2013 at 9:10 PM

And we’re bringing the whole “running with the bulls” thing here to the States……..I don’t get it. I’m sure the bull thing has to have been backed by lawyers. Must be getting low on the whole “if you did a stupid thing knowingly and got hurt, call me” cases.

waterytart on August 29, 2013 at 9:12 PM

There’s something fishy in Denmark… My local team, the high school I played for; said that they had 22 concussions last year. I don’t remember one concussion from when I played and I’m a big guy, who hit hard and took hard hits. I think they’ve either lowered the bar or there is something else going on. And I know it’s not because the kids are stronger because they all look quite small comparatively speaking. Something is going on here… One thing they say football makes them more violent… I say violent, aggressive and dominant personalities are probably drawn to a violent sport.

Kaptain Amerika on August 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Most Schools now require kids to get a baseline brain scan at he start of the season, so that the Dr’s can tell if you have had a concussion. The bar is not lowered they can just detect it better.

Just wait until High Schools get sued, We are seeing the death of Football as we know it.

Patricksp on August 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

The New America:

Professional athletes are victims

Unborn child are disposable

dmann on August 29, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Professional athletes are victims

Unborn child are disposable

dmann on August 29, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Do you really expect them to get by on the paltry salaries they receive?

Why, they’re practically fast-food workers!

Cad. /////////

predator on August 29, 2013 at 9:36 PM

$140K per player? Did you remember to factor out the 33% contingency fee the laywers are taking?

Steve Eggleston on August 29, 2013 at 9:39 PM

football fans should feel partly responsible for this.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

lol, you’re having a bad day. It must really suck to know that O’abama and his puppet Holder petitioned to give all the Bush War Criminals immunity from prosecution the other day!

A market for a product is not the consumer’s fault when it’s created; the product creator does that. When you Socialists arise from the vapours and understand that, we’ll stop laughing at you.

FF+

(Double F for “Football Fans”)

Del Dolemonte on August 29, 2013 at 9:46 PM

A market for a product is not the consumer’s fault when it’s created; the product creator does that. When you Socialists arise from the vapours and understand that, we’ll stop laughing at you.

FF+

(Double F for “Football Fans”)

Del Dolemonte on August 29, 2013 at 9:46 PM

you’re paying them to die early.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 9:52 PM

die early.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 9:52 PM

KOOLAID2 on August 29, 2013 at 10:25 PM

Well gee I’ve stumbled across some boo hoo we-had-no-idea lib site here Ed. It’s a violent game by design played by men who made choices to play the game just like boxing, MMA, hockey and politics. You get’s paid your money and you take your chances. Don’t play the friggin’ game. God this wears me out. If your knickers are such a knot about the nature of a man’s game then say it–ban it. I’m thinkin’ the pink shoes were your favorite NFL style statement Ed. Do you know why there is not nearly the weeping and gnashing of teeth about rugby? Because like black on white crime there is no money in it…yet. Rush is right yet again–there will be no football in 20 years in this sad pink shoes nuetered country.

HatfieldMcCoy on August 29, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Only 765 billion? That’s only about 1 or 2 stadiums, right? Owners, don’t worry, the taxpayers have got you covered.

Fenris on August 29, 2013 at 10:45 PM

Certainly not as good as it could have been for the NFL. Most players suing just wanted someone to pay their medical bills.

Robert_Paulson on August 29, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Gah….should read “Certainly not as bad as it could have been”

Robert_Paulson on August 29, 2013 at 11:08 PM

They should bring back tackling, and bar guys from throwing themselves at the ball carrier like a missile to knock them down.

Moesart on August 30, 2013 at 12:35 AM

Governments have spent 7 billlion on NFL. NFL is to big to fail.

Mormontheman on August 30, 2013 at 12:51 AM

The NFL paid pennies on the dollar AND stretched it out over 20 years… just plain evil…

Khun Joe on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Wait, so I get paid tens of millions of dollars a year for five or ten years in a very physical sport and I am not supposed to know that I am trading my long-term health for great, great wealth? They chose to do this. They signed up for the big salaries. They knew what they were getting into. They have already received more than just compensation for their injuries and they should have no standing whatsoever on which to sue the NFL.

Theophile on August 30, 2013 at 1:06 AM

Sorta like Mickey-D’s having to defend their coffee being hot….

viking01 on August 30, 2013 at 1:32 AM

Pro football players are padded up wusses who make way too much money. Give me rugby, Galic footie or Aussie rules men over those prima-donnas any day.

ExPat on August 30, 2013 at 3:45 AM

Good grief. Whatever happened to the “assumption of the risk” doctrine? And what about workers’ comp insurance? And didn’t the players’ oversized salaries essentially constitute hazard pay? We truly have become a nation of wimps and sponges.

Syzygy on August 30, 2013 at 6:54 AM

There’s something fishy in Denmark… My local team, the high school I played for; said that they had 22 concussions last year. I don’t remember one concussion from when I played and I’m a big guy, who hit hard and took hard hits. I think they’ve either lowered the bar or there is something else going on. And I know it’s not because the kids are stronger because they all look quite small comparatively speaking. Something is going on here… One thing they say football makes them more violent… I say violent, aggressive and dominant personalities are probably drawn to a violent sport.

Kaptain Amerika on August 29, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Most Schools now require kids to get a baseline brain scan at he start of the season, so that the Dr’s can tell if you have had a concussion. The bar is not lowered they can just detect it better.

Just wait until High Schools get sued, We are seeing the death of Football as we know it.

Patricksp on August 29, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Concussions are diagnosed and given out like candy. Since there is no way to technically prove whether someone does or does not have a concussion they err on the cautious side (ie., you have a concussion). I do like what the NFL is doing with the “Heads-Up” tackling program. USA Football and the amount of money they are using to promote it. However, my grandkids will never play football. It will die with this generation.

federalist45 on August 30, 2013 at 9:19 AM

football fans should feel partly responsible for this.

sesquipedalian on August 29, 2013 at 8:24 PM

Yeah, and we’re all partly responsible for Muhammed Ali’s scrambled brain and Dale Ernhardt’s death. Let’s ban stadiums and televised sports.

RadClown on August 30, 2013 at 9:23 AM