NFL Offers a Blank Check for Qualifying Retired Players

The NFL filed a revised settlement offer today after Judge Anita Brody rejected its $765 million settlement proposal in January. The new proposal promises that the “funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition,” according to the NFL.

In a statement, the NFL said, “Today’s agreement reaffirms the N.F.L.’s commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation.”

The eligibility standards as well as factors affecting the cash amount, like the number of years a player played in the NFL and his age when symptoms of neurological injuries started, would remain unchanged from the previous settlement agreement.  Also $75 million will still be available for baseline testing of retired players, and the league will donate $10 million for concussion research and education as it offered in the original settlement.

In the revised proposal, the NFL tightened the qualifications of the doctors whose diagnosis of retired players would help determine the cash award to weed out any false claims.  In addition, the NFL will eventually create a network of doctors who meet such qualifications.  On the other hand, the new offer eliminated a provision that prevented players who receive damages awards from the NCAA “or any other collegiate, amateur or youth football organization” from receiving additional awards from the NFL’s compensation program.

Previously, the New York Times estimated the costs for the NFL would be closer to $1 billion, as opposed to $765 million, considering the pool of currently retired players and the 65-year life of the original agreement.

Once again Judge Brody will review the new offer.  If approved, it saves the NFL from acknowledging any fault.  Similarly, players do not have to prove a causal link between their illnesses and the concussions they suffered during their professional careers.

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