By Ken Reed

Peter Keating, of ESPN The Magazine, has written an excellent feature article on just how weak the proposed concussion settlement between the NFL and former players is. The preliminary settlement, which still needs final approval from U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, basically ignores chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and all its possible manifestations. Brody’s final ruling isn’t expected to come until some time early next year.

Exhibits 1A and 1B as to why this settlement is deeply flawed, is the fact that former NFL greats Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, who shot and killed themselves due to the behavioral effects of CTE, would receive nothing from this concussion settlement were they alive today.

Writes Keating:

“By writing CTE and its possible manifestations out of the settlement, the league has scored a huge legal and political victory that will resonate for decades: The NFL does not have to admit the existence of a football-specific degenerative brain disease.”

Why did the players agree to accept such a settlement? For one, it is very confusing when it comes to what’s covered — and when — and what’s not. Two, and perhaps most importantly, the NFL is paying the former players’ attorneys $112.5 million within 60 days of the final settlement. It can’t be too surprising that the players’ attorneys are now pushing for a quick settlement.

Many brain-injury experts are shocked by the settlement’s lack of coverage in the CTE area.

Dr. Bob Stern, a professor of neurology, neurosurgery, and anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine, is concerned that the former players aren’t aware of the lack of coverage in the settlement when it comes to CTE. As a result, he’s started a mini-communications campaign to increase awareness and understanding.

“My goal is not to stop the settlement, and not to stop money from getting to people who desperately need it,” Stern says. “But my biggest fear is that a large majority of the players have no idea what is compensated and what is not.

“Leaving out the ability to diagnose CTE in the future — that is the single most problematic part of the settlement to me. We’re in the most exciting era of understanding the human brain in history, and that will set aside 65 years of neuroscience.”

As Keating aptly concludes, “For years, players were misled by the NFL about the dangers of concussions. Now those players deserve a full measure of help, not further deception.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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