Court of Appeals Finds in Favor of Former NFL Players

By Patrick Barron,
Sports Business Writer

Former players in the National Football League gained a big victory recently with the league concussion settlement. The third United States Circuit Court of Appeals have reviewed the settlement and decided to keep the judgment of a district judge last year. The district judge had accepted a revised deal that is rumored to be $1 billion.

This does not mean that the case is over for the NFL, because higher courts such as the Supreme Court can hear appeals. Former players who have brain damage resulting from multiple concussions, presuming from playing professional football for the league, can began to receive their payments within four months, an attorney said speaking for those players.

Opponents who want to help more players wanted the deal to include deals for current players who could have brain injuries in the future. They wanted to secure payments for players who may have chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that is found in former player’s brains after their deaths. It was an argument but failed to gain traction in the courts. Ultimately, the judges recognized their reasons, but they felt the settlement the NFL would pay out to former players was good enough for them.

In terms of the settlement, it would cover over 20,000 former NFL players for the next 65 years, and end thousands of lawsuits. The NFL wants to put to rest an era that is marred by controversy because many players’ deaths revealed CTE in their brains, resulting from playing in the league. The NFL itself estimates that 6,000 former players could have Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia. That is about three in ten players. Those are serious diseases and it prompts national concern for future of football, and its safety. The settlement have put up to $4 million for prior deaths involving CTE. However, it had a cutoff date of April 2015 to prevent former players from committing suicides to get payments.

The NFL acknowledges the problems associated with playing professional football, reversing it attitude on the subject, where it notoriously refused to recognize the problems from former players. Though, the NFL did not took any blame in the settlement, it is a good first step towards progress. In addition, the league might not have to reveal information about concussions, promoting some criticism from it critics. It is good to see the league taking action with properly paying former players who suffered multiple concessions leading the more diseases. However, what does this mean for the future of the NFL.  In the meantime, the league can put behind this controversial chapter in its history and move on towards the future.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 26th print edition.


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