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NFL's $914 Million Concussion Deal Ready for Court Approval

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Closeup of American football on field with yard lines.
Closeup of American football on field with yard lines.

The National Football League could spend more than $914 million to settle claims brought by former players over head injuries, according to a proposed agreement submitted for court approval.

The amount includes $675 million to compensate players for a specified list of injuries, $75 million for medical tests, $10 million for educational programs promoting player safety and injury prevention specifically in youth football and $4 million for administrative expenses related to class notices. The NFL also agreed to pay an additional $37.5 million if needed for players plus attorney's fees of $112.5 million, according to papers filed Monday in federal court in Philadelphia. A judge previously calculated the deal at $765 million.

"This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families—from those who suffer with severe neurocognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future," Chris Seeger and Sol Weiss, co-lead attorneys for the retired players, said in an emailed statement.

Lawyers for retired players filed the 149-page settlement agreement after negotiating final terms of the deal for more than four months. The settlement covers all of the league's more than 18,000 living retired players regardless of whether they've filed a lawsuit over concussion-related injuries, lawyers for the players said.

NFL supports the motion

NFL officials declined to comment Monday on the league's decision to commit more than $914 million to resolve the concussion cases. The league "supports the plaintiffs' motion" to have the settlement preliminarily approved, Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said in an emailed statement.

Under the agreement, compensation will be based on a list of qualified injuries including neurocognitive impairment resulting in memory loss, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and death from a progressive disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to court filings.

Players will be paid based on age and time in the league. For example, a player with one eligible season would get 70 percent less than someone who played more than four seasons in the league, according to the terms of the accord.

Players who contend their mental impairment stems from their time in the league don't have to actually prove they suffered concussions or that those incidents caused their injuries under the settlement, Seeger said in a phone interview.

More than 5,000 former football players had sued the league seeking damages for head injuries. The complaints, which were consolidated before U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, accused the NFL of negligence and failing to inform players of the link between repeated traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries, including early onset Alzheimer's and dementia.

The players claimed the league knew as early as the 1970s about the increased risk of repetitive head injuries and took no meaningful steps to address the issue until 1994. The league later sought to suppress medical literature showing a link between head injuries and post-career brain damage, the players said.

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