Federal Judge Rejects NFL Concussion Settlement

You know you have a big problem on your hands when $765 million is not enough to make things right.

Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected the proposed $765 million dollar settlement between the NFL and several thousand former players.  That deal, brokered last August, was intended to help compensate former players dealing with the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”), a degenerative brain condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease.  Evidence linking CTE to concussions has mounted in recent years, and several former players have spoken about the disease and how it is affecting their lives.  Most recently, current and future hall-of-famers Tony Dorsett and Brett Favre have indicated that they are fearful that CTE has begun to affect their lives.

Under the recently rejected deal, payouts from the settlement would vary based on several factors: a player’s age, years of NFL service, and medical diagnosis.  Younger players with more serious conditions would receive more, while older players suffering from early onset dementia would get less.  Those former players not yet exhibiting symptoms would be entitled to regular screening and any other required care.

In denying the settlement, Judge Anita Brody expressed skepticism over whether the amount would be enough to cover the 20,000+ retired players who would be entitled to a share.  Both sides to the agreement, however, have reiterated a shared belief that the agreed upon amount will be enough.  In separate statements, Greg Ailello, an NFL spokesperson, and Christopher Seeger, an attorney for the retired players, expressed confidence that the deal will ultimately be approved.

Many critics have voiced loud opinions that the NFL, with its annual revenue in excess of $9 billion, settled for an amount far below what they should have paid.  WIth both sides in agreement, however, this critique seems like it is destined to fall on deaf ears.  Either way, it should certainly be interesting to see how this matter plays out over the next few months.