Yesterday, the NFL reached a revised settlement agreement with the counsel for retired players on pending concussion litigation. The agreement uncaps league funding for the financing and compensation of retired players suffering the aftereffects of their playing career.
The initial agreement put forth last year included a cap of $765 million, an actuarial estimate that both parties agreed to. The new agreement “will ensure funds are available to any eligible retired player who develops a compensable injury”. This is, of course, after the agreement receives final approval and the appropriate compensation program is established.
“Consistent with the settlement announced last year, the revised agreement provides a wide range of benefits to retired NFL players and their families”, reads the announcement published on the league’s website.
The settlement includes “a separate fund to offer all eligible retirees a comprehensive medical exam and follow-up benefits, and an injury compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or ALS. Where the retiree is deceased or unable to pursue his claim, a family member may do so on his behalf”.
Additionally, the agreement dictates that the league will put out $10 million “for education on concussion prevention, as well as pay the costs of providing notice to the class and for administration of the settlement”.
The counsel for the plaintiff had the following to say about the revised settlement:
This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future.
This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed, and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse.
NFL Senior Vice President Danias also rang the bell of expedition, noting that the agreement accomplishes the league’s objectives “without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation”.
It’s fortunate that reason ultimately prevailed in this matter. The idea that a cap on the funds for concussion-related care ever made any sense to anybody is alarming.
The NFL was likely very satisfied with the original agreement that sought to put a figure on their total level of liability for the long-term wellbeing of their employees.
That includes a long list of former employees, now in middle age and in their twilight years, to whom the league lied about regarding the dangers they were putting themselves in.
I suppose when a former employee, in an effort to escape a life of pain that includes an erosion of self-identity, deliberately shoots himself through the heart in order to preserve his brain for study to examine the impact that his playing career had on his cognitive health, it’s a pretty eye-opening reminder that ethics should come before business and profit.