SBD/June 25, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Revises Concussion Settlement With Open-Ended Commitment To Retirees

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The NFL this morning "made an open-ended commitment to pay cash awards to retirees who suffer from dementia and other diseases linked to repeated head hits," according to documents cited by Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. The guarantee "is part of a revised settlement in the contentious lawsuit filed by about 5,000 retired players who accused the league of hiding from them the dangers of concussions." If U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody "approves the new version in the coming weeks, it will be sent to all 18,000 retired players and their beneficiaries, who can then approve the settlement, object or opt out of it." The results of that vote "are unlikely to be known for at least several months, and no players will be paid until all appeals are exhausted." The league’s new promise to compensate all qualified claims "could convince retirees who said they would opt out of the original settlement because they felt the league could have set aside more money for players with serious neurological disorders." The requirements to qualify for cash awards, which "are based on the number of years a player was in the NFL and his age at the time he developed dementia or other neurological disorders, will not change." As in the original $765M agreement, which Brody in January rejected, the league "will still set aside" $75M for baseline testing of retirees and $10M for concussion research and education. But documents show that a provision in the original agreement that "would have prevented players who receive cash payouts from suing the NCAA 'or any other collegiate, amateur or youth football organization' has been removed from the new proposed settlement" (NYTIMES.com, 6/25).
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