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SBD/June 26, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies
NFL Players Concerned Eligibility Requirements Too Narrow In Revised Settlement
Published June 26, 2014
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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).