In a dramatic development staving off what could have been years of costly litigation, the NFL has settled lawsuits brought by 4,500 former players over brain injuries suffered on the field.
Former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator, announced that the NFL and NFL Properties will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. The settlement still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody.
“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” Judge Phillips said in a statement. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. I am deeply grateful to Judge Brody for appointing me as mediator and offering me the opportunity to work on such an important and interesting matter.”
Although $765 million is an enormous sum of money, it’s also a sum of money that the NFL, which rakes in billions each year, can afford. Some of the most dire predictions said concussion litigation could bankrupt the league, but this is a settlement that the NFL can handle. The biggest question going forward may be whether the NFL can make changes to the game to keep players safe from brain injuries in the future.