The NFL has received final court approval to pay $765 million to settle concussion-related lawsuits first raised almost two years ago. More than 4,500 ex-players sued the league in 2013, claiming that it failed to protect them adequately against concussions and head injuries. The league had reached an agreement with players to pay $765 million, but the settlement was initially blocked by a federal judge who said the figure might not be enough to provide for the needs of 20,000 retired players.
The new deal is "more favorable" to the players
Anita Brody, the district judge dealing with the case, said the league's revised deal was "more favorable" to the tens of thousands of ex-NFL players who could qualify for benefits. Those benefits are expected to become available as soon as this summer, as long as no appeals are filed against the decision. In a statement, Chris Seeger, lead attorney for the players, said that if anyone does object to the approved deal, "no benefits will become available until this process is exhausted — which will take months, if not years to resolve."
The settlement is a positive development for ex-players who have developed health problems linked to repeated blows to the head sustained on the football field, but it's not a complete solution to the NFL's ongoing concussion crisis. Earlier this year, one of the league's most promising young linebackers, Chris Borland, made the decision to retire after only one year of professional football. Borland, who was 24 when he announced his intentions to retire, said he didn't think football was "worth the risk" to his body.