The NFL understands that it has on its hands a concussion problem. In fact, the league has known that for a long time, and that is part of the problem. What they knew and when they knew it became such an issue that it resulted in a number of lawsuits, including a big one that they lost. They are beginning to pay out settlements already within recent months.
But the litigation is not entirely over. The NFL is currently working with a number of different insurance companies that will be handling the payouts to players. They have reportedly already settled with six of them, but many more remain.
Mike Florio argues that the league is essentially stepping into a potential minefield, with the insurance companies holding significant leverage, because it would be in the NFL’s best interests to avoid an open-court trial that will result in exposing to the public myriad details that were concealed because the matter was settled.
So, naturally, that gives the insurance companies leverage to press the league to see how far they would be willing to bend before breaking. It’s likely that neither party would prefer to take the route that leads to a full-on open court case, but the league would seem to have much more to lose in such an event.
What is at stake is of course a matter of public relations, and already the NFL is viewed skeptically when it comes to how they have responded to concussions over the years. The casual viewer might be sold on their recent efforts to ‘clean up’ the game, for example, and the league would not want to lose that benefit of the doubt.
Of course, there are also those who argue—and there are some within our community—that the players know what they are getting into when they signed up for the game and that they are thus not entitled to anything in the aftermath. It should be obvious that smacking heads for a decade will cause damage to your brain, right?
One might think that, but then you have rookies come along every year who simply don’t seem to really understand, like Jamal Adams. Even retired Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Mundy was baffled by his comments.
Mundy, for his part, said that he never really heard concussions or CTE talked about as he was growing in the ranks through high school and college, and even in the NFL. If you were to ask me, this is where the problem ultimately lies.
While the NFL is no longer actively disputing, deflecting, and denying the links between football and concussions and CTE, they are also not doing a whole lot to actively educate their players, nor through various programs that they run involving lower levels of football about their cognitive health. It is difficult to make an informed decision without the appropriate information.