The NFL and more than 4,500 retired players have reached a proposed $765 million settlement of concussion-related lawsuits. The Los Angeles Times reports that former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips, who served as a court-appointed mediator, announced that the parties have agreed to a deal that would end the litigation against the National Football League and NFL Properties, providing medical and other benefits as well as compensation to qualifying injured players and their families.
Many former players who were part of this lawsuit had neurological conditions, which they said, stemmed from concussions they suffered during games. The lawsuit accused the league of hiding known risks of concussions for decades to return players to games and also to protect its image.
One case in particular that made national headlines was the suicide death of former NFL player Junior Seau. He suffered sub-concussive and concussive blows to the head during his time as a player and began to show emotional instability and suffer insomnia until he died. His family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL claiming the multiple concussions he had led to his depression and ultimately, his suicide.
The plaintiffs in this lawsuit included at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau.
Agreement Heralds Changes in the NFL
Phillips stated that this “historic agreement” would ensure that not only NFL players and their families who need and rightfully deserve this compensation get it, but also that “it will promote safety for players at all levels of football.” An attorney for the NFL stated that the settlement is an important step that builds on the significant changes that the league has made in recent years to make the game safer.
The Danger of Concussions
Several recent studies have shown the devastating effect football-related concussions can have on the brain. You don’t have to go as high as the NFL. A recent study showed that head impacts among second-grade football players could be as severe as those seen at the college level. Researchers at Virginia Tech and Wake Forest universities also found that most of the severe hits in youth football occurred during practices.
This makes it all the more important for coaches and parents to take the steps necessary to protect our youth from these types of serious brain injuries that can have a lifelong impact on the players’ health and well-being. If a player has suffered a concussion, he should be rested and kept off the field until there has been a complete recovery. The NFL lawsuit has shed light on a very important issue that could potentially save the lives of millions of young athletes in the future.