Former NFL Players Object to CTE Benefits Cutoff Date for Incentivizing Suicide

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On Friday, February 27, ten former NFL players objected to the revised settlement proposed in the long-running NFL concussion injury litigation.

The objectors, dissatisfied with the recent amendments made February 13, mainly take issue with the “arbitrary cutoff date” for players’ families to receive benefits when a player dies with CTE.  Originally the plan was to pay $4 million in benefits to the families of players who died with CTE prior to July 7, 2104.  Under the most recent proposal, the cutoff date for death by CTE benefits is designated as the settlement’s final approval date.  Any player, therefore, who seeks to secure these death by CTE benefits would be incentivized to commit suicide prior to the final settlement agreement.

The argument attacks earlier objections by players now agreeing to the terms who claimed the previous deadline incentivized suicide.  Calling the cutoff designation “unconstitutional,” the objectors seek to have benefits for death by CTE extended for the entire 65 year duration of the settlement so all former players’ families could receive such benefits.  Though an interesting argument, the objecting players fail to address the fact that CTE can only definitively be diagnosed post mortem.  Therefore, any player who feels incentivized to commit suicide to collect these benefits would be doing so without knowledge of a CTE diagnosis.

Dr. Robert Cantu, a concussion expert who will oversee the medical monitoring fund in the NCAA concussion settlement, similarly opposes the NFL settlement and its cutoff date.  Cantu claims that CTE was found in 76 of the 79 deceased NFL players examined.  With such high numbers, not drawing a CTE benefits cutoff date could over expose the NFL and its owners.  Cantu reminds, however, that these owners are billionaires, and they should likely be able to handle the cost.  Dr. Cantu wants to ensure that any players going forward who die with CTE can receive benefits given that the likely percentage of such players is astronomical.

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