What $85 million could get the NFL: thinking about the NFL concussion settlement

All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Novo Nordisk.

Yesterday the NFL and the NFL Players Association reached a settlement concerning compensation for concussions and other football-related injuries.  The impending lawsuit was brought by former NFL players who claimed, among other things, that the NFL downplayed the risk of concussions despite having knowledge of their effects and also did not do all it could to help former players.

The total amount earmarked for the settlement is reported to be $765 million dollars, with the vast majority ($675 million) in a fund to support former players and families in dealing with the aftermath of concussions.  Commentators have noted that this appears to be a great victory for the NFL.  First, the amount of money is less than many expected even with a settlement.  Second, the NFL did not have to go through discovery, which would have laid open exactly what the NFL did know about concussions and possible side effects, as well as potentially other damaging information that, once released in court, could never be private again.

It seems likely that those who were bringing forward the suit settled because they were motivated to help the most needy members of their group.  Many former NFL players are suffering dementia and lingering aftereffects from their playing days.  Some families of deceased players will also benefit.  The former player pool can’t really afford to wait for the long protracted time a trial and subsequent appeals would take since in the interim many would fall into poverty and even poorer health; some could also die. Continue reading

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