Three NFL players unexpectedly announced their retirement from the game this week, including possible future Hall-of-Famer, San Francisco 49er LB Patrick Willis. Willis, 30 years old, was selected for the Pro Bowl after each of his first 7 seasons and was chosen as a first-team All Pro linebacker 5 of his 8 seasons. Although none of the three specifically mentioned concussions, CTE or concerns about long-term brain damage, you have to wonder if those potential health issues were part of their logic.
Federal Judge Anita Brody presides over the NFL concussion litigation.
Hopefully in 2015 we’ll see the the resolution to what has become perhaps the largest brain injury related lawsuit in history, the NFL concussion litigation. Early in the lawsuit, some experts predicted that the case could carry on for as long as twenty years, with lawyers for both sides battling over carefully crafted legal points while the plaintiffs, former NFL football players continued to suffer from brain injuries allegedly caused by years of hard-hitting tackle football. But one person, presiding over the process, may have made the tremendous difference in moving the litigation swiftly toward resolution. Federal judge Anita Blumstein Brody was thrust into the spotlight as she balanced the demands of 4,500 former NFL players and the potential defenses offered by lawyers for the wildly-popular National Football League. Fortunately, Judge Anita Brody’s background indicated that she had been suitably prepared for the enormous task.
Update: Check out Aaron Gordon’s excellent investigative piece on the current lawsuit between former USC defensive lineman Armond Armstead, his alma mater and the USC team doctor, James Tibone.
Originally published 4/6/13:
USC wide receiver Robert Woods is getting plenty of interest from NFL teams prior to the 2013 draft, according to a report by Mike Florio of NBC’s ProFootballTalk.com. Florio says that Woods, a junior at USC, has likely raised his draft position from 2nd to 1st round since having a good showing on Pro Day. Based on the assumption that a player can only safely suffer a limited number of concussions in a career, it would be interesting to find out if NFL teams are counting concussions when taking taking account of a player’s medical history.
The upcoming Hollywood version of the NFL concussion story, starring Will Smith, is currently filming in Pittsburgh, PA. The film is based on the 2009 GQ magazine article, Game Brain, by Jeanne Marie Laskas. Game Brain told the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu and his discovery of CTE in the brain of Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steeler center Mike Webster. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is the name of a degenerative neuro-cognitive disease that has been found in the brain tissue of deceased athletes who often suffered concussions and their heads were routinely exposed to violent hits and extreme rotational forces.
Although Roger Goodell has become the face of the NFL’s concussion strategy, most of the allegations in the concussion lawsuits actually occurred while Washington D.C. “anti-trust lawyer” Paul Tagliabue worked for the owners as commissioner of the NFL. In 1989, Tagliabue was chosen by the team owners over Saints executive Jim Finks and former Green Bay Packer Willie Davis to lead the NFL. He held the position until 2007 when Roger Goodell took over. While Tagliabue’s business acumen helped expand the popularity of the NFL to unprecedented levels, it was his legal acumen honed over a 20 year career at Washington D.C. law firm Covington & Burling that served to indemnify the league and add a sophisticated layer of risk management to the multi-billion dollar NFL business.
Much has been written about the settlement to the NFL concussion litigation. The recently released actuarial data however lends considerable insight into more accurately evaluating the quality of the settlement.
Although media stories on the quality settlement have varied widely, according to the report handed into the court, the actual number of players expected to be compensated is rather high. The NFL Concussion Liability Forecast prepared for the plaintiffs by Dr. Thomas Vasquez of the Analysis, Research, Planning Corporation forecasts that nearly 3,600 former players will receive compensation over the life of the settlement. The average amount of their compensation will be $259,000. The amount of compensation that an individual player receives will vary based on the diagnosed illness, the age of the player at the time of diagnosis, and the number of seasons played in the NFL.
2 different reports were filed with the court.
Attorneys for the NFL and attorneys for the concussion plaintiffs recently filed their respective actuarial reports with the court detailing how they arrived at the total compensation package for the settlement. Great, interesting reading with plenty of new, insightful information.
Click below to download pdfs of the reports:
The Segal Group Report on behalf of the NFL
The Vasquez Report on behalf of the Plaintiffs