PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Newly approved by a federal judge, the brain-injury settlement between the National Football League and players could end up costing the league more than $1 billion over 65 years.
Signed on Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, the order is one of the last hurdles the league must clear to finalize the settlement, which still faces opposition from 200 league players who have argued that the agreement both complicates how players are compensated and leaves out payments for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological condition resulting from multiple head traumas that can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash said in a statement: “Today’s decision powerfully underscores the fairness and propriety of this historic settlement. As a result of the settlement, retirees and their families will be eligible for prompt and substantial benefits and will avoid years of costly litigation that – as Judge Brody’s comprehensive opinion makes clear – would have an uncertain prospect of success.”
Under the settlement, younger players already suffering from symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Lou Gherig’s diseases will receive more money – up to $5 million each – than older players. Players will receive an average of $190,000.
The settlement will almost certainly face 3rd Circuit review. In December, the federal appeals court declined to intervene ahead of Judge Brody’s assessment.
In addition to consternation over the limitations of the benefits disputed, the dissenting group of players has complained that the settlement would allow the league to avoid responsibility that it knew of the dangers of football and covered them up for years.
The league expects 6,000 of 20,000 players to be able to claim benefits, including, through his family, Junior Seau, the former New England Patriots linebacker who committed suicide in 2012.
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