The National Football League agreed Thursday to a $765 million settlement with former players who accused the league of ignoring the dangers associated with concussions. According to a filing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the NFL will compensate players who suffered cognitive injury, fund medical exams for players, and conduct concussion-related research.
Former players who suffer from severe cognitive illnesses such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease will be awarded a maximum of $5 million, while the families of players who committed suicide after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) will receive up to $4 million. The settlement covers all players who retire before the date the settlement is approved by a federal court.
“The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots who has been diagnosed with ALS.
Industry experts believe the settlement was a slight victory for the NFL, which pulls in annual revenue of approximately $10 billion—a number that could skyrocket to $25 billion within 15 years.
“It would certainly seem to be fair financial terms to the NFL as an enterprise, especially given how difficult this lawsuit has been from a PR and perception viewpoint on both the NFL and the sport of football,” said Robert Boland, professor of sports management at New York University. “This is a very positive end for the NFL.”
One of the terms of the settlement makes it clear that the deal “cannot be considered an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.”
The thousands of plaintiffs who were suing the NFL included Super Bowl champion quarterback Jim McMahon, Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett, and the family of 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest in 2012. An examination of Seau’s brain after his death showed signs of CTE. Former NFL linebacker Gary Plummer told USA Today that if not for Seau’s highly publicized suicide, “I don’t think this settlement would have happened.”
The settlement is still subject to the approval of U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, whose decision will likely come in the next two to three months.