Injuries of all kinds are natural in the National Football League, they just come with the territory. Despite the claims by certain right-wing pundits who deny the dangerous potential of in-game concussions (concussion deniers, much like their climate-denying counterparts), long-term effects of constant brain trauma from on-field hits are a very real thing.
The NFL recently settled a lawsuit for over $700 million, which was filed by around 4,500 former players, because it “mismanag[ed] concussions and obscur[ed] the links between football and long-term brain injuries.” Sadly, the league was not forced to admit its errors and is allowed to keep any research conducted about concussions under wraps. Even worse, the settlement will not be enough to compensate all of the players in the suit, leaving out mostly older players, ESPN reports.
This new development in the lawsuit not only affects players, but if the former player died before 2006, their families will be left out in the cold also, despite a diagnosis correlating gameplay and brain damage. Jason Luckasevic, a mass tort litigation attorney from Pittsburgh representing over 500 players commented on the lawsuit: “It is a very valid concern. . . there are not enough funds for those that are injured.” Greg Aiello, NFL spokesman, never commented.
Mike Webster, NFL Hall of Famer and former center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, died in 2002 of heart attack. Three years later, a neuropathologist gave a post-mortem diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, the first among former NFL players. After his death, Webster’s estate filed a lawsuit against the NFL disability board and won a $1.8 billion verdict.
There is currently a test in development that can determine a CTE diagnosis in living players, as the condition can only be found postmortem currently.
Among the concern about players and their families being completely cut out of the settlement, there is question about how much the players included in the settlement will actually pocket after years worth of legal counsel. Sources have indicated two different outcomes in regard to legal payments.
Some say that the league will pay for all the legal fees from a “common benefit” fund so that most of the money will go to the players. Another source said that attorneys “will collect fees directly from players under previously negotiated contingency agreements.” Former Minnesota Vikings lineman Brent Boyd expressed grave concern for how the money could be disbursed to the players in the settlement.
“My concern about the settlement is it seems to return us back to where started, to the same NFL disability-type system, where you’re sent to an independent medical examiner and you don’t really know who appointed this person,” said Boyd. “We’ve been through this for decades, and I have talked to thousands of retired players who have no faith in how the money is distributed”