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The NFL is a big deal, making billions every year. But is it doing enough to take care of league players, former and current?
( Keith Allison )
According to a report released by the National Football League Friday, three out of every 10 former NFL players are likely to develop brain conditions, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and at earlier ages compared to the general population.
Released as supporting evidence in a class-action suit against the league, the report calculated that the NFL’s proposed settlement of $675 million will be sufficient to award damages to affected former players. Out of the 19,400 former league players, the NFL and opposition lawyers estimate that around 28 percent of them, about 6,000 individuals, will develop Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia as a consequence of their time playing for the NFL.
The American football league is being sued for allegedly hiding information that associated brain injuries to concussions. Presiding over the lawsuit is Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, who has first expressed concern that $675 million will not be enough to cover all of the damages. The report was released in response to her concerns.
Aside from $675 million for compensation, the NFL also proposed spending $10 million for research purposes, $75 million to undertake baseline assessments, and $5 million to raise awareness in the public.
With the fund estimated to annually earn 4.5 percent, both sides have deemed the proposed settlement amount to be enough to cover 21,000 former players. The NFL has also said that this estimate is conservative and reasonable, overstating the potential number of players that will be affected to ensure ample coverage.
Still, critics are saying the settlement is small, given that the NFL registers annual revenues of $10 billion.
Judge Brody granted preliminary approval of the proposed settlement after the NFL added that it will remove the limit on its contributions, paying more than $675 million if needed. However, a fairness hearing is still scheduled for Nov. 19 to give critics a chance at challenging the proposed settlement.
Current league players are not included in the settlement, and only those under 45 years old and who have spent a minimum of five years playing for the NFL are eligible to receive maximum payouts.
Maximum payouts have been pegged at up to $5 million for those diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotropic lateral sclerosis or ALS) and $3.5 million for Alzheimer’s patients. Other forms of dementia and neurocognitive conditions will receive $3 million, while deaths involving CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition involving brain decay diagnosed only after death) will get $4 million.
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