In late August, a class action lawsuit brought by former players against the National Football League (NFL) was settled for $765 million, a controversial price tag that raised questions even at the outset.
The action was brought on behalf of retired players suffering from neurological conditions allegedly caused by years on the gridiron. The settlement provides financial support to retired players with proven neurological impairment in the following sums:
Payment for dementia capped at $3 million
Alzheimer’s disease compensation topping out at $5 million
Payout for death because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy at $4 million
While the hardest-hit players welcomed news of the settlement, others wonder about settlement of an action that could have proved negligence on the part of a $10 billion enterprise. With a plaintiff pool numbering 4,500, the eventual financial resources provided to each player or family may leave some players with continued need for outside financial assistance.
In settling the case, the NFL did not accept responsibility for injuries suffered by players. Because the case did not proceed further, documentation that could have proven when the league understood the danger of traumatic brain injury (TBI) was not disclosed.
With fall football season underway in schools across the United States, many school districts require parents to review and sign a concussion form that provides information about the causes, symptoms and dangers of TBI.
For aging football players, that information came too late. Their last big paycheck is not a signing bonus, but compensation for what is fast becoming the endgame of football — brain injury.