The NFL is embroiled in a controversy surrounding lawsuits brought by professional football players that allege the league intentionally and negligently misled at least several hundred players about the dangers of concussions and other head and neck injuries.
The lawsuits could be decided on a workers compensation basis and have been filed by former players and their spouses in various courts across the country. The suits seek to hold the NFL liable for permanent injuries and state that the NFL grossly misrepresented the severity of injury risks. Former NFL players assert that they suffer from dizziness, headaches, psychological problems, memory loss, and other brain-related issues after sustaining concussions during football games and practice.
U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody sent both sides back to the bargaining table to find a way to make amendments to a proposed settlement that fell short of establishing a compensation fund deemed adequate to cover the hundreds of potential claims from former players. Judge Brody has given both parties until February 13 to find agreement closer to the $1 Billion level which the NFL appears to support. It is believed by many in the legal community that if the settlement pushed beyond that level it could fall apart.
“The NFL, likely the richest professional sports league ever, has demonstrated a repeated unwillingness to take adequate care of retired players who are suffering from the consequences of on-field repeated and chronic head impacts incurred during their respective league careers and have made the game of professional football in this country what it is today,” according to one suit filed against the NFL.
One issue with the proposed settlement as it stands is that it would exclude future payments for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain condition common in former athletes who have suffered concussions. CTE as the condition is known was the original reason that the suit was brought forth in the first place. Clearly the NFL is trying to limit the scope of the potential workers compensation claims.
It is generally believed if a reasonable limit can be set for claims that the NFL is eager to settle, however the broader controversy of the ever-increasing violent physicality of professional football will only grow as hundreds of former players begin to collect on claims for their injuries.