Following years of legal proceedings, consolidated cases and an appeal stemming from the United States District Court, a landmark settlement has been reached between the NFL and thousands of retired players. The settlement, reached by an appellate court overseen by a three Judge panel upheld the previous ruling of Judge Anita B. Brody of The United States District Court. Brody had overseen the vast majority of individual cases against the NFL that were combined in Philadelphia over three years ago.
In the settlement, outlined in a 69-page document, players can receive up to $5 Million each once they discover they have Alzheimer’s, A.L.S., Parkinson’s or severe dementia, or if they were found to have C.T.E. before the settlement was approved last year. Although some will receive the full amount, the payout will be determined on the time spent in the League and the player’s age, along with other factors. Although the minority of retired players will receive a payout, all players can now receive medical tests that will be paid for by the NFL to monitor their health. A provision in the deal insisted by the NFL includes all retired players, which largely closes the door to any future claims.
The deal, supported by 98% of the players who opposed the NFL puts an end to a long string of legal battles that have plagued the league. For years they have repeatedly issued statements that assert there is no link between time spent playing football and neurological problems related to C.T.E. (a degenerative brain disease caused by repetitive brain trauma). This issue has long been heralded as a defining and embarrassing moment for the most popular sport in the country, as thousands of retired players contend that they have been lied to about their health.
Although the ruling is being praised by most, a few players who have led the appeal process feel that the court has not gone far enough. Citing new testing for neurological disorders and the sheer fact that the science surrounding CTE is in its infancy, provisions in the deal do not outline posthumous diagnosis of memory loss. Eligibility for payout depending upon the timing of diagnoses is also a point of contention. These issues will all be decided on at a later date, along with a determination if representation of this small percentage of players can remain at the same firm.