By Ken Reed
The lawyers and accountants of NFL franchises — not to mention the team owners themselves — are undoubtedly smiling ear-to-ear these days because the league’s financial liability risk related to the brain trauma and concussion issue has dropped considerably the last couple months.
Back in August, the league agreed to a $765 million settlement with 4,500+ former players who had sued the league over a variety of neurological conditions they were experiencing related to concussions and sub-concussive brain trauma from repetitive blows to the the head during their playing days. The deal was widely-viewed as a bargain for the NFL by legal analysts considering the severity of the brain injuries and the negative PR the concussion issue has brought to the league. Many observers were expecting a multi-billion dollar outcome for that case.
Earlier this month, the NFL secured another victory on the brain trauma front. California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that significantly limits workers’ compensation claims by professional athletes.
According to Ken Bensinger and Marc Lifsher, writing in the Los Angeles Times, the legislative win in California could be a bigger victory for the NFL than the league’s settlement of the former players’ lawsuit.
“The NFL’s legislative win in Sacramento could be far more valuable over the long-term. It allows the league to sidestep exposure to thousands of serious head and brain trauma claims by out-of-state players who are no longer eligible to file in California,” wrote Bensinger and Lifsher.
These wins by the NFL are losses for our society as a whole. The settlement with the former players will close the books on a lot of what the NFL knew and when the league knew it. A lot of valuable knowledge regarding brain trauma and concussions won’t see the light of day now. The legislation signed by Gov. Brown in California establishes a dangerous precedent that could one day lead to additional legislation that negatively impacts workers in industries besides professional sports.
“It’s a sellout to the billionaire owners” of professional teams, said Melissa Brown, a workers’ compensation attorney in Sacramento. “Players are suffering these terrible injuries, especially the older ones. They are going to be without a remedy.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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