Shawn Wooden with Dolphin Cheerleaders (AP)
In a recent op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel, former NFL players Kevin Turner and Shawn Wooden discussed various positive attributes of the proposed concussion settlement. One of the interesting points they raised is that participation in the concussion plan’s BAP program may make it easier to qualify for other existing NFLPA neuro-benefit plans.
“Additionally, this settlement leaves intact all other benefits the NFL currently offers former players, such as the 88 Plan, Article 65 neurocognitive benefit or disability. If anything, this agreement will make it easier for us to take advantage of these existing benefits, by providing ironclad medical documentation we can use with benefit administrators.” – former players Kevin Turner and Shawn Wooden
Tony Dorsett may be the current face of the NFL Settlement CTE question (AP)
Plaintiffs attorneys for the former NFL football players are trying to clear up the question of CTE in regard to the proposed concussion settlement. A recent Sporting News piece addressed the controversial issue with the former players Co-lead Counsel, Chris Seeger.
“Seeger, co-counsel Sol Weiss and the legal team specifically fought to make sure CTE was not used to determine eligibility, he said, because they didn’t want anyone to challenge players to have to prove they have it—and that it was specifically related to concussions, and then only to ones suffered as an NFL player. It was a hurdle the lawyers did not want to subject players to.”
Judge Anita Brody's Memorandum Granting Preliminary Approval
On Monday, July 7, three years after the first NFL concussion lawsuit was filed in 2011, Judge Anita Brody issued a 21 page Memorandum granting preliminary approval of the revised class action settlement proposal. It’s now possible that the settlement could be finalized within six months or so and former football players could start receiving benefits. Of course the possibility also exists that if enough players choose to opt-out or object to the settlement over the next few months the NFL could decide to withdraw the offer and return to court.
For younger former NFL players like Quincy Carter, the proposed settlement can act as a lifetime insurance policy against brain illness. (AP)
I am primarily concerned that not all retired N.F.L. football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid. ~ Judge Anita Brody, January 14, 2014
Well, Judge Anita Brody’s primary concern regarding the original NFL concussion settlement proposal has now been resolved. Yesterday, lawyers representing the 4,500 plaintiffs (and likely soon the “settlement class” of an estimated 20,000 former NFL football players) reached an agreement with the NFL and its counsel and filed a new settlement agreement that erases any cap on total payouts to players with qualifying diagnoses.
Since the NFL concussion litigation began almost three years ago, we’ve heard over and over from various vested parties how difficult it is to diagnose a concussion: “science just isn’t there yet,” “the doctors are treating other players and didn’t see it,” “the players lie about it,” etc. Yet over and over, thanks to television, fans at home are easily able to out-diagnose the team medical staff, the head coach, the neurological consultant on the sideline, the eye-in-the sky concussion camera and the broadcast announcers along with their replays, spotters and earpieces. Somehow, in 2014 any yahoo at home with a TV set, cable and a DVR is able to watch a play, spot a KO’d player, and say “hey . . . umm . . . that guy’s got a concussion.” Better and faster than the NFL’s been able to do with 20 years of rheumatology committees (oops, i mean neurology committees, Paul Tagliabue) millions in university research, top team medical staffs, video cameras, all kinds of experts and even Tom Brady and Ray Lewis to tell us that they’re on top of it.
Dan Marino signs 3 yr. $17M contract, 1996. (AP)
When news of the NFL concussion lawsuit of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino first appeared in the Penn Record on May 30, journalist Jim Boyle termed it “another salvo in the ongoing litigation by retired players against the league.” Here, it was quickly noted that Marino’s lawsuit represented a public reversal by the former NFL TV commentator:
Several days later, after news spread about the surprising lawsuit by the former employee of CBS TV’s, The NFL Today, Marino was compelled to drop his name from the litigation. Regardless of whether Marino is actually signed up as a plaintiff or not, the publicity that story brought back to the brain injury litigation served as a grim reminder of how much anxiety former players must really have about their longterm health.
Injured Jim McMahon enjoying the spotlight with Johnny Carson (AP)
While the allegations in the recent drug lawsuit against the NFL, Richard Dent, et al. v. NFL reinforce the perspective of the NFL as a big, bad organization who cares little for the health and well-being of their employees, the lawsuit does not quite match-up to the onslaught of arrows that the concussion lawsuits brought.