Late last month, an arbitration settlement ruled that there would be no cap placed on the funds that the National Football League would pay to players suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy as a result of concussions sustained during their playing careers.
Seven former players, including former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Alan Faneca, have now filed an objection to the aforementioned proposal, which is still awaiting preliminary approval before anything can go forward.
The objections that the players’ representatives raise are many, and serious.
Foremost among their concerns is the fact that the proposed settlement limits the league’s liability for concussion-related ailments only to cases in which an individual exhibits symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Yet all seven players claim that they are already suffering from the effects of the repeated concussions suffered during their playing career, a list of ailments that includes “episodic depression, sleep disorders, mood and personality changes and attention and concentration deficits”.
The objection claims that the wording of the proposed agreement would prevent these symptoms from being covered by the league in the absence of symptoms of CTE.
Also of chief concern is the “procedural labyrinth” that the proposal constructs that makes it difficult for qualifying former players to apply for and receive payment, which the objection claims is “designed to limit the number and amount of settlement payouts”.
The filing goes on to raise grave concerns regarding the partiality of the counsel taking part in the arbitration, which contends that their award of $122.5 million in fees “increases the likelihood that class counsel will have bargained away something of value”.
That something of value includes lifting not a finger to raise any contention regarding the league’s culpability in retarding the progress of concussion education and research for years, arguing for some time that there was no link between concussions and CTE, among other claims that they have been forced to retract in the face of scientific research.
In the objection, the players’ representatives write that “class counsel settled this case without taking a single deposition and without the NFL producing a single document”, suggesting that the arbitration was merely procedural and received the rubber stamp treatment.
“The players face a whole series of obstacles as they make their claims while the lawyers who did very little collect their fees very quickly and easily”, it reads.
The objection raises some very serious charges, chief among them lack of proper coverage. It remains to be seen, however, whether the judge will refuse preliminary approval for the settlement agreement originally reached last month following this action.