SBD/August 30, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL's Concussion Settlement Leaves Many Players Pleased But Some Still Sharply Critical

Tarkenton was among retired players pleased with the NFL's settlement
Former players, including some plaintiffs in the settlement and many not involved, commented on Thursday's deal. In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun writes the settlement was "met with mostly positive reactions from some family members of players involved in the suit" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/30).

FORMER PLAYERS PLEASED: Fran Tarkenton: "The NFL is finally doing the right thing." Jim McMahon has "been diagnosed with dementia," and his attorney Larry Coben said, "I can tell you that he's delighted" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/30). Charlie Waters: "It was a great admission from the NFL. The directive they made was, 'Hey, we want to do the right thing'" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/30). Plaintiff Ben Utecht: "A big win for players. From what I'm reading, how it looks is that it's really designed to take care of those who are truly in need, and a lot of former players are" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 8/30). Plaintiff Frank Garcia: "This is the first time you can look and say, 'They're putting their money where their mouth is'" (ESPN.com, 8/30). Plaintiff Peter Cronan: "This is a benchmark day for retired players. ... It's an acknowledgement that the NFL is willing to take some degree of responsibility for the safety risks we took to build the game" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/30). Warren Moon: "From what the first offer was to where it is now, I think it's a fair deal" (ESPN.com, 8/29). Plaintiff Barry Krauss: "The NFL obviously doesn't want any further lawsuits. They've stepped it up, and there is more awareness" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/30). Plaintiff Kevin Turner, who has ALS and was one of the faces of the litigation, said, "There will always be people who said there should have been more, but they are probably not the ones with ALS and at home" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/30). Barry Sanders: "I like the sound of it.  … Obviously, the NFL didn’t reveal information on concussions, but they acknowledge it’s been an issue for a long time. … I love the sound of it. I think it will go a long ways with former players and even current players" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/29).

SOME LUKEWARM TO DEAL: Plaintiff Gary Knafelc: "At least they have done something to help. ... It doesn’t seem like that much will trickle down to individual players." Dave Robinson: "The most important thing to me is that they are setting up a portion of the settlement for research" (GREENBAYPRESSGAZETTE.com, 8/29). Plaintiff Bennie Thompson: "It was a good win for the players because now it's settled and guys get something, but the NFL wins even more because they can afford to pay a lot more." Plaintiff Wally Williams dubbed the settlement "a beginning." Williams: "If I get a $170,000 check, I would be pretty happy." Former player John Mackey's widow, Sylvia Mackey: "I'm elated. ... Even though it seems the NFL doesn't want to admit the faults of the past, they do want to move on and address this issue" (Baltimore SUN, 8/30). Plaintiff Mark Rypien: "I don’t know that a lot of us are going to make significant money off of this, and that was never the intent. But what we wanted was to know that if there was a need that would arise, then the cost of that care would be taken care of and that our health will be monitored" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/30). Former NFLPA President Kevin Mawae was critical of the deal and tweeted, "NFL concussion lawsuit net outcome? Big loss for the players now and the future! Estimated NFL revenue by 2025 = $27 BILLION However, the retirees faced ticking clocks on the health of many of its class members, and legal hurdles that could have left them with little if anything." He later said, "The biggest win for [the NFL] is they don’t have to disclose anything, any of the information that they may have had since the late '80s or early '90s on concussions. ... They may have had information back in 1994 that the players could have at least known all these years, but they paid to keep those that closed. That’s what it amounts to. There’s no disclosure anymore." He said that he "hopes the most deserving players get their fair share." Mawae: "I looked at some of the names in the lawsuit, and I'd never heard of some of them. For some guys it's just a money grab. Maybe they went to one training camp or didn't even make a practice squad" (247SPORTS.com, 8/29). ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he spoke to Mawae, who told him, "What I call this is hush money" (“World News Tonight,” ABC, 8/29). CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Prisco wrote, "I am glad the players got their money. ... I don't think they deserve it. ... It's a money grab" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/29).

Dobler says he doesn't think the settlement
will pay off for the players long-term
SOME PLAYERS NOT HAPPY: Bart Oates said of the former players, "I feel like they left money on the table" (NJ.com, 8/29). Plaintiff Paul Krause said, "The league, they’re not going to come right out and say, ‘It was our fault.’ But, with this settlement, they’re saying they have some fault in it. But, personally, I don’t think they settled for enough" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/30). D'Marco Farr said why he thinks players settled, "Hold out for what? How many of them have time to hold out? That clock is ticking on these guys lives. Who knows how long some of them have to live. That’s not their fight anymore" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/30). Plaintiff Conrad Dobler: "It's a great victory for the law firm that's going to get 30 or 40 percent. ... It's a nice settlement. But when it's all done, over (20) years, what's it going to equate to? Probably, each team won't be able to pay the minimum salary for one player" (K.C. STAR, 8/30). Plaintiff Mark Collins: "I think it's great for the players. I'm all for it." But Jayice Pearson said, "They allocated $765 million to the cause, when in actuality it’s being paid out over 20 years … and it only benefits a few, it doesn’t benefit the masses" (K.C. STAR, 8/30). Plaintiff Joe DeLamielleure: "I have no confidence when they throw money figures around." But Reggie Rucker said, "I'm actually blown away that they were able to get this done as quickly as they did. I anticipated going through many, many years of litigation. ... I think it's great" (CLEVELAND.com, 8/29).
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