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NFL, Former Players Settle Concussion Lawsuit for $765 Million

Chicago defensive tackle William Perry of the Chicago Bears tackles Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett of the Dallas Cowboys in a17-6 Chicago win on August 3,1986 in an American Bowl at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
Tony Dorsett, right, is among the plaintiffs in the suit. Photo: Perry McIntyre/Getty Images

The NFL and 4,500 former players have reached an agreement to settle a concussion-related lawsuit for $765 million. The players had accused the league of hiding the known risks of concussions, and last year multiple lawsuits filed by NFL alumni were consolidated into a single complaint. The NFL had denied any wrongdoing. And though the former players will receive some compensation from the league, the settlement appears to be a win for the NFL.

To a league that prints money like the NFL does, $765 million isn’t a crippling amount. (To give that figure some context, starting in 2014, the league will be getting some $7 billion per year in TV and radio contracts alone.) The league had been facing the possibility of billions of dollars in liability if the lawsuits had proceeded.

The settlement doesn’t mean the NFL admits liability. In other words, it won’t have to admit that the players’ injuries were caused by football, although that’s not necessarily how the average fan will see it. But more important, under the terms of the settlement, the league probably won’t have to disclose what it really knew about the dangers of concussions. Via the AP:

The settlement likely means the NFL won’t have to disclose internal files about what it knew, when, about concussion-linked brain problems. Lawyers had been eager to learn, for instance, about the workings of the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a rheumatologist.

Via the Times, the $765 million will be used for medical exams, concussion-related compensation, and a program of medical research. (The league also agreed to pay legal fees.) Any former player is eligible to receive money if he qualifies, and individual awards will be capped at $5 million for ex-players with Alzheimer’s disease, $4 million for those diagnosed with CTE after their deaths, and $3 million for players with dementia.

A judge still must approve the settlement.

NFL, Former Players Settle Concussion Lawsuit