Concussion settlement not enough for some ex-players

McClatchy news servicesAugust 31, 2013 

The hundreds of millions of dollars the NFL is ready to pay former players sounds great, until you stretch it out over 20 years and divide it among thousands of people.

Which is why some former players and others think the league is getting off cheap in its tentative settlement with victims of concussion-related brain injuries.

The deal announced Thursday to settle 4,500 or so claims is awaiting approval by a federal judge in Philadelphia.

“$765 million?” asked former Minnesota Viking Brent Boyd, one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The breakdown is $1.2 million over 20 years per team. What is that, a third of the average salary? There is no penalty there. It’s pocket change.”

Others former players didn’t seem as concerned about the amount of money, preferring to focus on the timing of the settlement. They said that getting medical coverage now for their peers — or themselves — who suffer from a variety of brain ailments and other health problems is essential.

“Those people who need help now, really need the help the most and need it right now and not five years from now, will get the help,” said former fullback Kevin Turner, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was one of the lead plaintiffs. “That is key.”

“It is hard to put a dollar figure on ALS or Parkinson’s or dementia and all these things. But if you ask me, I think it is fair.”

The settlement calls for payouts of up to $5 million for players suffering from Alzheimer’s disease; up to $4 million for those who died of brain injuries known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE; and up to $3 million for players suffering from dementia. The NFL will also pay for medical exams and devote $10 million toward medical research.

Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., estimated the settlement will cost the NFL $45 million a year, or 0.4 percent of current revenue.

“The attorneys were under some pressure to deliver a concrete gain for those players suffering from these diseases,” Zimbalist said. If not for the settlement, “it’s likely the NFL would litigate for many years before any settlement would come.”

He added: “It is a positive settlement for the former players, even though it could have been higher.”

Or as Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson put it, the NFL “has the resources to sort of stretch things out for years and years and years. The players don’t have years and years and years.”

JAGUARS CUT TRUFANT

Former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Trufant signed with the Jaguars in May, reuniting with Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator for the past four seasons.

A former star at Wilson High School in Tacoma, Trufant played 10 seasons for the Seahawks after being drafted in the first round out of Washington State in 2003. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2007 season, when he had a career-high seven interceptions.

EXTRA POINTS

San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James is expected to miss three to four weeks with a sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. … The Bills placed quarterback Kevin Kolb on injured reserve and released fellow QB Matt Leinart. … The Cardinals put first-round pick Jonathan Cooper on IR, ending the left guard’s season, and released former University of Washington guard Senio Kelemente. … Bengals defensive end DeQuin Evans was suspended for the season’s first eight games after violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances for a second time … The Falcons waived linebacker Brian Banks, who spent part of the 2012 offseason with the Seahawks. … Former defensive back and kick returner Fulton Walker Jr. was recovering from injuries after West Virginia police said he was beaten during a home-invasion robbery.

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