One of the most recurring NFL stories during the off-season has been concussions and former players’ lawsuits. The recent settlement of the lawsuit brought by former NFL players against the NFL for deliberately misleading players about concussion risks brings attention to the importance of finally taking the issue of concussions seriously. The settlement is intended to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research for the more than 4,500 former football players that were plaintiffs in the case. Many of the plaintiffs believe that their neurological problems were the results of on-field concussions. In the lawsuits, they accused the NFL of hiding known risks of concussions. The NFL “has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted that safety always has been a top priority.”
Hoping to avoid the need to constantly address the topic and have the topic in the news, the timing of the settlement allows the NFL to begin the new season with the issue resolved. There is no doubt that the excitement of the new season will make news of the settlement an afterthought in very short order.
With the concussion cases now settled, the questions about what the NFL knew and when it knew about concussion-linked brain problems will not have to be answered and the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee inner-workings will remain a closely guarded secret. In 2005, the NFL series on concussions research concluded that chronic brain injury “has never been reported in American football players.” The authors of the study, published in the medical journal “Neurosurgery,” included three members of the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.
While NFL experts denied a link between football and long-term brain damage, the NFL’s retirement board concluded that players did suffer brain damage. According to a joint investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and PBS’ “Frontline” show teamed up and discovered that the NFL retirement board had started paying disability benefits to players in the late 1990s and 2000s, concluding that football caused their brain injuries.
According to the mediator, former U.S. District Judge Layne Phillips, this was “a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football. Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed.”
“It’s been a struggle to get to this point, but today I will say I’m very proud that the NFL has decided to stand up for all the former players who are suffering from brain injuries,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, during a teleconference. “Today is so important for those who are … hurting. This will bring help for them today.”
As happens with any class action lawsuit anyone who chooses to opt out and sue the NFL on their own may do so. The NFL settled this case because it was in their best interest from both a financial point of view and from a fan loyalty point of view as can often happen with a case like this. At the end of the day it will be extraordinarily expensive and difficult to go toe to toe with the NFL and the NFL knows that.
If you have been injured and have a concussion or other injuries that were not inflicted in the NFL you need competent and aggressive representation and the Law Office of Guenard & Bozarth may be the firm for you. Call us at 888-809-1075 or visit our website at