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NFL Settles Concussion Suit; NCAA Next?


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?

Article written by Corey Nichols

15 Comments for NFL Settles Concussion Suit; NCAA Next?

  1. njCat
    6:40 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Once again NFL players get the shaft. This settlement is ridiculously small considering the extent of the damage caused to players and the culpability of the team and league management. Guess all the brain injuries have left them incapable of selecting good representation.

    Of all professional sports they have the most at risk (short careers and life altering injuries) and they receive the least compensation. Very little of the money in their contracts is guaranteed unlike baseball and basketball where its ALL guaranteed. They get cut or injured, contract is void. The average length of an NFL career is less than 4 years.. so very few make much money while most end up hobbled for life. To add insult to injury.. the NFL makes the most money for its owners of any of the professional sports.

    This settlement is a travesty.

  2. To steal a quote from Rush, this is only the beginning for the NFL.

  3. Billy O'Shin
    6:58 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    What happened to “assumption of risk”. Every football player knows football is extremely physical. These folks are already overpaid. When I first heard about this litigation, I thought it was a joke. And it is. The attorneys and players….laughing all the way to the bank. At the fan’s expense.

  4. No mc
    7:04 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Sure, it’s the corporation/institutions fault. No responsibility required from the individual. The new American way. This is right up there with the mcD’s hot coffee causes burns suit.

  5. No mc
    7:07 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    Njcat….c’mon dude, seriously? Hobbled for life? Is the pro boxer or UFC lawsuit coming next?

  6. Bronco
    7:54 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    The NFL players have never had any leadership. The NFL owners just got off by paying pennies on the dollar, as usual.

  7. lonnieb
    8:24 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I cannot believe the players received anything in the NFL….its ridiculous. They know the risks to live the dream of playing pro football. It makes me mad when i saw it on the bottom line

  8. njCat
    8:32 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    The main point is…. the league lied to these guys and told them they could play when they should have been healing. When you lie and someone else gets hurt… YOU PAY!!!!

  9. Weekend Reader
    9:03 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    This article gives me a damn headache.

  10. Blue Jesus
    10:59 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    I understand “assumption of risk,” but there needs to be some protection for the players. At the very least rules need to be implemented that will force teams to give players a certain amount of time off after a head injury so that they aren’t pressured into returning too early and suffering re-injury.

  11. Blue To The Bone..
    11:41 pm August 29, 2013 Permalink

    You must remember that the lawyers will get between 33 to 40% of that money so it dwindles fast…They will end up with much more money than the players can ever hope to get..

  12. Seriously
    10:07 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t play football. You’re getting paid millions of dollars to play a game. All of these players knew there was high risk involved, and they went ahead and did it.

  13. stubbs
    10:49 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    There are a lot of “inherently hazardous” jobs, but that doesn’t mean the workers (who have the least power) have to assume all the risk vs. the owners (who have the most power, and make the most money).

    If someone working in a factory gets hurt due to the nature of the job, they rightly collect workman’s comp, and if there is demonstrable negligence by the managers or owners they would rightly have grounds to sue.

    You can’t absolve your responsibility as an owner just by saying “oh the job’s dangerous, but if you’re not okay with us making a bunch of money and you taking all the risk of life-long physical impairment, then you don’t have to work here!”

    This isn’t the 19th century. We no longer allow sweatshop labor and we hold people accountable when the “job” they have designed maims their employees.

  14. hello
    11:28 am August 30, 2013 Permalink

    football is not a factory that is supposed to contain safe gov. approved equipment….everyone with common sense knows that the players chose to play a sport where concussions are a pretty normal occurence, this has been common-sense since football has started, hence all the improvements to equipment over the years….this isn’t new. Factory workers make/made $10-$30 an hour, NFL players make a minimum of $375,000 a year…compensation aplenty.

  15. stubbs
    3:34 pm August 30, 2013 Permalink

    Football isn’t a factory – but it is certainly a business, which is the point. It generates ludicrous amounts of money, and because of that the employees are certainly paid well.

    This doesn’t mean that the owners of the business are absolved of the responsibility to keep their employees as safe as possible.

    This judgement was very conservative – the NFL is compensating people whose lives were ruined in the normal course of doing their jobs, and who likely had to pay for very expensive medical treatment.