SBD/June 26, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

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  • NFL Players Concerned Eligibility Requirements Too Narrow In Revised Settlement

    With the monetary award fund now uncapped, payments are guaranteed

    The NFL concussion case "isn't over," but yesterday's announcement of a revised settlement "is a key step in that direction," according to Gary Mihoces of USA TODAY. After the initial rejection, both sides "expressed confidence they could show the judge the money was there." But under the new agreement, the "monetary fund has no limit." Christopher Seeger, co-lead attorney for the players, said, "The most important change to this settlement is the monetary award fund is now uncapped, meaning payments from this fund will be guaranteed." He added, "Retired players and their families can now rely on the 100% guarantee that the fund will pay all eligible claims over its 65-year duration." Mihoces reports beyond monetary awards, those "with 'moderate' cognitive impairment would be eligible for NFL-funded baseline neurological and neurophyschological examinations and further testing, counseling and treatment." The revised settlement was "reached in collaboration" with Perry Golkin, a court special master appointed by U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody. Seeger said that concessions "were made in return for the NFL agreement to the uncapped monetary fund." That included "a change in how often the NFL can appeal a qualifying diagnosis that would a player eligible for an award." Seeger said that the previous settlement "allowed 10 appeals a year for the NFL," but that limit "was removed" (USA TODAY, 6/26).

    JUST THE BEGINNING: THE MMQB's Andy DeGory writes the settlement ultimately "looks like a win-win for the NFL and the players." Seeger said, "We heard concerns from players who needed to trust that the money would be there in, say, 40 years." He added, "There is no scenario where a player won't get paid. The biggest news of this is that in 15 or 25 years, you are still guaranteed to be compensated." Seeger noted that aside from "tightening some details the agreement between the players and the league remains largely unchanged." The standard will "remain the same for players seeking benefits; severe cognitive impairment will need to be proven to receive benefits." If, during a baseline assessment, mild cognitive issues "are identified, players will be eligible for follow-up treatment as part of the program" (MMQB.SI.com, 6/26). But in N.Y., Ken Belson notes skeptics "contend that the eligibility requirements are so narrow that the league's offer to remove the cap on cash awards is irrelevant." Pro Football HOFer Joe DeLamielleure said, "The question is how many hoops you have to jump through." Center For Class Action Fairness President Ted Frank said removing the cap is “obviously a big change." But he added, "The real question is whether it is just one set of changes or whether there is a second set of changes where the NFL gives with one hand and makes the restrictions tougher and takes away with the other hand" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/26).

    LEGAL CHALLENGES STILL REMAIN: In N.Y., Michael O'Keeffe notes the proposed settlement "doesn't mean the NFL's legal battles with former players are drawing to a close." Former NFLer Jim McMahon and other retirees sued the league in May in S.F. federal court, claiming that the league "illegally gave them narcotics and other painkillers that led to addiction and long-term health problems" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/26).

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  • FIFA Bans Luis Suarez For Nine Int'l Matches, Four Months For World Cup Biting Incident

  • League Notes

    SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote with the U.S. team "off to a four-points-in-two-games start" at the FIFA World Cup, MLS "deserves a little credit." Playing in MLS "doesn’t prevent you from having a good World Cup." Galaxy F Landon Donovan showed that in '10, and now several MLS players are "enjoying terrific World Cups," none more so than Sounders F Clint Dempsey. MLS players "aren’t just performing well; their numbers are also up at this year’s World Cup." At the '10 event, only four of the 23 players on the U.S. team "came from MLS." That is up to 10 this year (SI.com, 6/24). Meanwhile, ESPN's Keith Olbermann said if the U.S. gets "clocked by the Germans, especially if they don't then get the requisite breaks and have to go home, there will be no surge in interest" in MLS and there will be "no exponential growth in America embracing the 2018 World Cup." However, he sarcastically added, "If the U.S. beats the Germans, there will still be no exponential growth in America embracing the 2018 World Cup and no surge in interest in Major League Soccer" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 6/25).

    MR. DESTINY: In DC, Deron Snyder writes the fact that LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have become free agents makes the NBA offseason "a lot more interesting, filled with drama, suspense and intrigue that otherwise wouldn't exist." The Bulls, Rockets, Clippers, Lakers and Cavaliers all can "fantasize about landing James and Anthony, giving everyone else plenty to talk about" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/26). In Akron, George Thomas writes under the header "'Decision II' Begins Its Sports Domination" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/26).

    GIRL POWER: In Boston, Michael Whitmer writes LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan “must be thrilled with what he has seen in 2014, because his tour is having the best year -- viewed from a US golf fan’s perspective -- of all the professional circuits.” Whitmer: “Imagine Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, and Sergio Garcia taking turns winning every week, at the expense of each other?” That is what the LPGA “has delivered -- at least its version -- almost every week” (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/26).

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