One of the biggest pieces of potential sports litigation in a long time has been the pending class action “concussion” suit brought by former players against the NFL. After months of mediation, it looks like the case won’t go trial, but instead has been settled for $765 million. According to ESPN:
he NFL has reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.
One of the principal terms of the settlement is that the agreement “cannot be considered, an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.” …
Individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men who have or develop ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or another severe cognitive impairment; $4 million for those diagnosed with CTE after their deaths; and $3 million for players with dementia.
While that $765,000,000 number seems pretty big at first glance, when you consider the number of class members, the potential harm that each might have suffered, and the overall worth of the NFL ($9.5 billion annually), it actually looks like the League got a bit of a bargain in all of this.
But now that the NFL has settled its suit, is the NCAA next? In July former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington filed a similar class action in Chicago against the NCAA. The similarities in the suits are pretty obvious: football players are subject to long-term injuries as a result of the organizations that profit from them, and are looking for some recourse. The difference in the NCAA suit is, of course, the availability of money (college sports bring in less than half what the NFL does), the number of players involved (the NFL has 32 teams, while the NCAA has 120 in D1 alone), and the actual remedy sought. The former college players are looking for more change in the way that practices are handled, and an overhaul in the cautionary measures surrounding player well-being.
An interesting thing to consider, especially on opening day of one of the country’s favorite seasons: college football. If this suit doesn’t get worked out, how many more seasons will we have to see hits like Clowney’s?