SBD/October 18, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Limited Number Of Former NFLers May Share In Concussion Settlement, Payments To Vary

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Former players with ALS, like Steve Gleason (c), could receive up to $5M
The number of former NFLers eligible to receive payments in the league's $765M concussion settlement "may be relatively small," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. A draft of the proposed settlement sent to players on Oct. 9 stated that "only players with the most severe brain injuries would be compensated, and the estates of retirees who died before 2006 would be excluded." The draft stated that players found with a "severe brain injury after they turned 45, or who played in the NFL for five years or less, would probably receive smaller payouts." The details of the settlement, which requires approval from U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, "may disappoint some players who hoped to be paid." Among those who may be compensated are "the estates of players who died in 2006 or later and received a diagnosis with one of those conditions or were found to have" CTE. However, retirees "will not have to prove that their ailments were caused by football." It is "unclear how many of the roughly 20,000 retired players will be compensated." But lawyers said that they would be "paid according to their age and their illness, and the number of years they played in the NFL, which is being used as a way to approximate the number of head hits they absorbed." Former players with ALS "could receive up to" $5M. The families of players "who committed suicide and were found to have CTE may receive up to" $4M. Players with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s "could receive as much as" $3M. Players with "other neurocognitive deficits will receive less." Players who "develop these diseases after they turn 45 will receive less based on the thinking that they are closer to the age when such diseases are more likely to occur in the general population" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/18).

SCHLERETH NOT HIDING HIS FEELINGS: ESPN’s Mark Schlereth addressed the ongoing concussions issue in the NFL and said, “When you settle a concussion lawsuit for $765 million dollars, and part of that settlement is you don’t have to admit any guilt and you don’t have to turn over the 10, 20, 15 years of research that you’ve gone through that would actually help in regards to educating people about head trauma and that parts of the settlement, then safety is not your first concern. Money is your first concern" (“Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 10/18).

WORRY ABOUT IT LATER: In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes he has "talked with more than a dozen" Bills players since the release of Frontline's "League Of Denial" last week. Half the players said that they had "suffered at least one concussion during their football careers." But in "almost every case, the player couldn’t say for sure." A documented concussion "is one thing, but in a sport where players get their 'bell rung' all the time, who can really say?" The NFL now is "doing more to protect the players -- and in a world where denying pain is part of the culture, you have to protect the players from themselves." WR Stevie Johnson said that he "had one serious concussion" in junior college. Johnson said, "I’m not worried right now. I’ve got to live in the now, you know what I’m saying?" S Jairus Byrd said that he "never had a concussion." Byrd: "Not to my knowledge. Not a documented one. But I’m sure I ... I don’t know. I’ve gotten my bell rung" (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/18).
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