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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Opponents of NFL’s Brain-Injury Settlement|Call the Offer a Failure

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The National Football League's offer to former players suffering from concussion-borne degenerative diseases fails to address the most prevalent illnesses, players who defected from the deal told a federal judge Wednesday.

If U.S. District Judge Anita Brody approves it, the NFL's $1 billion settlement would provide up to $5 million per player, depending on a variety of factors.

Christopher Seeger, an attorney for players who support the league's offer, urged the judge to grant final approval at a Wednesday morning hearing.

"At the end of the day, this was a science-driven case," Seeger said.

The settlement, which Brody approved preliminarily in July, provides awards for four conditions: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkison's, Alzheimer's, and dementia. The latter category is subdivided by severity, dementia 1.5 and dementia 2.

Steve Molo represnts opponents of the agreement, who say the convoluted deal obscures how little money players will actually receive.

For this group, the settlement lacked basic science, and excludes symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a devastating form of dementia that is only possible to diagnose in an autopsy.

The settlement offers more money for younger players suffering from the listed conditions, decreasing the award substantially as they age, the objectors claim.

A 25-year-old with ALS would receive $5 million, but that amount dwindles to the tens of thousands of dollars by the time the player reaches his 70s.

Some players have argued that its earliest symptoms, such as suicidality and aggression, are seen in the earlier stages, long before a postmortem reveals the presence of telltale proteins in the brain.

The league would still compensate those who died from CTE before July 7, 2014.

The NFL and the settlement proponents say that mood-based symptoms are too nonspecific to attribute to football. Seeger said that of the effects of CTE, "the most serious and common ones are compensated."

This is not enough, former NFL player Eugene Moore told Judge Brody.

"Class counsel has, with all due respect, failed the players and their families," Moore said during the hearing. "By allowing the elimination of CTE and overly broad releases, they fail. It was almost as if there was some sort of alternative universe in which all the figures were constructed."

Moore and the lawyers complained that the settlement figures for players, in addition to age, relied on the number of games played during season, ignoring the injuries occurring during training.

"My educated guess is that from the beginning of training camp through pre-season, the amount of impact you take through those six to eight weeks is at least 50 percent of the total," Moore said.

The NFL's lead counsel, Brad Karp, said the offer has "been scrutinized more closely and publicly than any class settlement in history."

"The league could have fought these claims, successfully fought these claims, in my view," said Karp, but added that the NFL ultimately "decided to do the right thing."

While the current proposed settlement is uncapped, Judge Brody rejected an earlier offer settlement that would have the NFL shell out $760 million over the course of 20 years.

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