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Seau family opts out of concussion settlement

Seaus-death-came-with-zero-warning-3L1DP1AC-x-large Getty Images

The concussion settlement will end the ongoing talk about head-injury litigation and the NFL.  Unless it doesn’t.

Legally, all players have the right to “opt out” of the class-action resolution of the claims that started as a 4,500-plus lawsuit and became a collection of all NFL retirees.  According to ESPN.com, the family of the late Junior Seau has decided not to accept the terms of the settlement, and to proceed with a wrongful-death lawsuit against the league.

Seau committed suicide in 2012 after a 20-year career that included time with the Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots.

“The family want to know why this settlement seems designed for expediency for the NFL and to ensure that information doesn’t come out,” lawyer Steven Strauss told ESPN.com.  “And the Seau family wants the truth to come out.  Since this litigation started, there hasn’t been one document produced, there hasn’t been one deposition taken.  It seems very clearly designed to nip this in the bud and not have the truth come out, and that’s not acceptable to the Seau family, and it’s not acceptable to Junior’s legacy.”

As a result, Seau’s family will forfeit up to $4 million in potential benefits and chase not only a larger settlement or judgment, but also the truth.

Potentially blocking the search for the truth will be the first hurdle installed by the league in the path of those pursuing justice — the argument that the labor deal prevents players from going to court and requires them to pursue relief under the Collective Bargaining Agreement exclusively.  The parties negotiated the settlement as Judge Anita Brody was preparing to issue a ruling on that key threshold question.

Seau entered the NFL at a time when the CBA didn’t exist, due to the decertification of the NFLPA following the failed 1987 strike.  For any concussions he sustained from 1990 through 1992, he wasn’t covered by a CBA.

The league nevertheless will try to exclude from the litigation any concussions suffered by Seau as of 1993, when the CBA returned.  That date becomes important because the controversial Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee formed in 1994.  The MTBI Committee allegedly concealed the risks of harm and discredited the research of others for nearly a generation — during which Seau continuously played pro football.

So it could be that, in the same year Seau inevitably enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his family’s lawsuit will gather momentum toward an outcome that will cost the NFL a lot more than $4 million, and that will expose plenty of evidence that otherwise will never be revealed publicly.

The smartest play for the NFL could be to privately attempt to persuade the Seau family to take a lot more than $4 million to settle the case.  At a certain point, the number could become so large that it would be impossible to say no.

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49 Responses to “Seau family opts out of concussion settlement”
  1. ibeatmywife says: Sep 3, 2014 2:54 PM

    no one seems to care about a guy dying over negligence of the NFL. nope, everyone is still crying about a guy retaliating to getting punched and spit on by a female.

    time to grow some balls, people. human life is worth more than feminism

  2. p8riotdynastylives says: Sep 3, 2014 2:56 PM

    just sad for the ” buddy”……….

  3. grant1979 says: Sep 3, 2014 2:57 PM

    So they think they can get more than 4 million. Got it.

  4. niko0063 says: Sep 3, 2014 2:59 PM

    I would like to see a study of the % of ex NFL players who commit suicide v society as a whole or another industry, like fund managers. Sad truth is people commit suicide, is the ex NFL player rate that much higher than others?

  5. billsalldayaday says: Sep 3, 2014 3:00 PM

    Looks like he is wearing one of those helmets you used to get signed as memorabilia.

  6. jjb0811 says: Sep 3, 2014 3:01 PM

    If seau’s family is doing for money only, sad. A 20 year career as A performer plus endorsements should have Netted them $100m.

  7. dalfanforever says: Sep 3, 2014 3:04 PM

    They’re going after a bigger payday. Bank on it.

  8. truthfactory says: Sep 3, 2014 3:05 PM

    Here is what I know… It doesn’t matter what the “documents” say. Seau and all the other players would have continued to play so they could keep cashing checks.

    Everyone knows the risks today and yet I dont see anyone retiring. This lawsuit is complete a BS money grab.

    Under the same logic, I’m going to sue my employer because my job causes stress, and they never revealed to me the consequences of stress to my physical and mental health even though they had data available to them that showed them how dangerous stress can be. I now demand $4,000,000

    Complete nonsense.

  9. floratiotime says: Sep 3, 2014 3:06 PM

    They figured they can get more free money by going it alone.

  10. holla2626 says: Sep 3, 2014 3:06 PM

    “No excuses and no sob stories. Life is full of excuses if you’re looking. I have no time to gripe over misfortune. I don’t waste time looking back.”

    “When I first started playing football, a headache was called a ‘headache.’ And now it’s called ‘a concussion.'”

    – Junior Seau

  11. skawh says: Sep 3, 2014 3:06 PM

    Sue the pants off of the NFL, who for well over a decade fought tooth and nail to avoid acknowledging the dirty reality of their league…repeated CONCUSSIONS are life killers.

    I applaud the Seau family for choosing to reveal the truth about the NFL, and for choosing NOT to be bought off by the NFL who has attempted to silence players with minimal payments amounting to chicken scraps, compared to the billions the NFL makes annually.

    NFL needs to stop exploiting people for profit. What good is it to make millions when you’re not around to spend it, or your days after football are a daily nightmare 24/7?

  12. puntonfirstdown says: Sep 3, 2014 3:17 PM

    Fast forward 10 years: “The descendants of former NFL star Junior Seau are all suing each other over the settlement they received.”

  13. purpleguy says: Sep 3, 2014 3:20 PM

    There are legal theories out there called assumption of the risk and contributory fault, not to mention laws limiting claims like this where worker’s compensation insurance is available. No matter what the NFL did or didn’t do, no NFL player can realistically state that they didn’t know playing the game could result in serious, long-lasting physical injury. That’s why the plaintiff’s settled, and that’s why players aren’t entitled to every last penny they think they are. This society is always looking for someone to blame and someone to pay rather than looking in the dang mirror.

  14. TheDPR says: Sep 3, 2014 3:21 PM

    Why should his family be bound by the CBA? They didn’t sign it or join the league. They lost a father and husband.

  15. FlashPatterson says: Sep 3, 2014 3:21 PM

    Seau opted out of life, there was nothing the NFL could do to stop that. Millions of people who aren’t NFL players kill themselves.

  16. topcide says: Sep 3, 2014 3:32 PM

    Ok, junior seau shot himself.

    did head injuries maybe depres him a little or something? that’s debateable.

    I am the first person to say that the NFL hid the impact of consussions,but I know a consussion surely didn’t put the glock to his head and pull the trigger.

    Dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession, can they sue Crest?

  17. obsessedvikingfan says: Sep 3, 2014 3:41 PM

    Can someone tell me what part of this warrants deletion?

    How can you sue for wrongful death when he killed himself?

    I know they say head injury but he hadn’t been institutionalized for 10 years, he was only out of the league a little while. His sanity wasn’t gone by then.

    But, I don’t even play a Dr. on TV so what do I or any of us know for that matter.

    Just seems weird that suicide is blamed on someone else.

  18. realskipbayless says: Sep 3, 2014 3:42 PM

    ibeatmywife says:
    Sep 3, 2014 2:54 PM
    no one seems to care about a guy dying over negligence of the NFL. nope, everyone is still crying about a guy retaliating to getting punched and spit on by a female.

    time to grow some balls, people. human life is worth more than feminism

    -Ravens fan

  19. chargrz says: Sep 3, 2014 3:51 PM

    The ” Truth” is the Seau family is all about the money.

  20. gisellichek says: Sep 3, 2014 3:54 PM

    This will be the straw that breaks the back of the NFL… this lawsuit will crush this sport.

  21. richc111 says: Sep 3, 2014 4:10 PM

    Meanwhile not far away Seau’s nephew is now the starting linebacker for San Diego State.

    Seau starting is the result of the injuries to the more veteran linebackers. Jake Fely is out for now while recovering from neck surgery.

    Interesting don’t you think.

  22. marthisdil says: Sep 3, 2014 4:31 PM

    And now the family will have to prove that Seau didn’t have any concussions in college, high school, etc.

    If he did, the NFL will say “pre-existing condition” and win the argument.

  23. chipwrecked says: Sep 3, 2014 4:33 PM

    Isn’t it a good possibility that a lot of this concussion damage occurred prior to players’ NFL careers?

  24. walkinginthewasteland says: Sep 3, 2014 4:50 PM

    None of what the NFL did means jack here. Players knew the risks and have for decades.

  25. truckenlauten says: Sep 3, 2014 5:00 PM

    My son-in-law, my daughter and my son all committed suicide and the furthest thing from my mind was who could I sue. This family seems to be all about money.

  26. sparty0n says: Sep 3, 2014 5:09 PM

    Who will Robin Williams’ family sue?

    You cannot tell me Seau didn’t know it was taking a toll on his body. Nor am I convinced that football is the reason he took the actions that he did.

  27. coloradical420 says: Sep 3, 2014 5:14 PM

    Bronco Fan Here. Good For Them. The NFL Needs To Pay A Lot More To These Families And Players.

  28. cornersss says: Sep 3, 2014 5:33 PM

    Anyone think Seau would have sued the nfl? I dont….

  29. cornersss says: Sep 3, 2014 5:37 PM

    Seau probably caused more concussions than he ever received.He played like he was running down hill

  30. cornersss says: Sep 3, 2014 5:38 PM

    “As a result, Seau’s family will forfeit up to $4 million in potential benefits and chase not only a larger settlement or judgment, but also the truth.”

    Truth? Spare us….. His family just wants the money.

  31. cornersss says: Sep 3, 2014 5:42 PM

    Guess whos going to pay for this obvious money grab?

    Me and you in tickets and apparel sales.

  32. cornersss says: Sep 3, 2014 5:44 PM

    “NFL needs to stop exploiting people for profit. What good is it to make millions when you’re not around to spend it, or your days after football are a daily nightmare 24/7?”

    Exploiting? They make some of the most money you can make on this planet in one pay check. Please…..

    Seau wouldnt be suing the nfl, its his family.

    He knows he made his bread and butter of crushing qb’s and rb’s

  33. conormacleod says: Sep 3, 2014 6:06 PM

    Everybody hates the billionaires. That’s all it comes down to.

  34. fanasaurus says: Sep 3, 2014 7:07 PM

    It really bothers me that these ex-football players and their families claim no responsibility or knowledge of risk to their health from playing football. The term “punch drunk” has been around for decade upon decade. It refers to the after effects from continually being struck in the head. As someone with severe spinal disability from genetics and partaking in contact sports, I knew the risks and haven’t tried to find someone to sue and or blame for my choices in life. As I’ve always said “you don’t go to war and not get wounded” or in this case, play at “war like” or contact sports and not get hurt. Sometimes for the rest of your life.

  35. abninf says: Sep 3, 2014 7:11 PM

    Following the 1979 season, Roger Staubach retired, fearing the after-effects of recurring concussions.

  36. berniethedog1 says: Sep 3, 2014 7:17 PM

    Seau made tens of millions of dollars by playing football. He knew the risks of getting hurt. Why does his family deserve more tens of millions of dollars?
    Soldiers get traumatic Brain Injuries more often than football players. What do they get? $1400 a month!

  37. sladewillson says: Sep 3, 2014 7:18 PM

    So at most, NFL players play a total of 8 years of football between high school and college. Not to mention the years of PeeWee and Pop Warner, and they choose to sue the NFL. I just dont get it the NCAA has money why are they not being sued

  38. pbeddoe says: Sep 3, 2014 7:30 PM

    They are just seeking money, great way to disrespect the legacy of what some considered a good football player. Seems like the Seau’s are a bunch of losers, just the the Chargers, good fit.

  39. skoobyfl says: Sep 3, 2014 7:31 PM

    The truth: Baby, I want more money.

  40. sidneyz says: Sep 3, 2014 8:03 PM

    American Football had always been a violent sport. Should the players be compensated for their injuries? Sure, but they all knew the inherent risk of playing such a brutal game. Besides, who’s to say the the head trauma didn’t start in pop warner or high school football? Are u going to sue them too? The NFL had a responsibility to all of its current, future and past players. The billionaires who run this game and are getting richer by the day can afford to take care of each and every player. It’s called the cost of doing business. But this doesn’t mean that the players affected will be in for a big pay day. You knew what you were getting yourself into when you decided to take the field. Paying your medical bills is more than enough compensation.

  41. klroot says: Sep 3, 2014 9:41 PM

    kudos family

  42. klroot says: Sep 3, 2014 9:47 PM

    The Seau family is honoring Junior Seau, by not opting for the” easy” money. Junior wanted for the world to know about what concussion’ s were doing to players.
    The Seau family is helping Mr Seau to inform us all, as we were his wishes.

  43. FinFan68 says: Sep 3, 2014 9:53 PM

    The family is making a huge mistake. They say they want “the truth to come out” and probably have not thought about that process. Follow the logic trail to a trial. The NFL will almost certainly have to provide an alternate theory as to why he killed himself. Does the family really want the scrutiny that comes with questions like “Couldn’t he have been depressed about his relationships with you?” When he tried to drive his car off the cliff, what did you do?” Couldn’t you have done more to help him since you were the closest to him?” While they are distasteful questions, the lawyers would do so in order to help the league. If they lose a wrongful death suit (due to reasonable doubt, lack of certifiable proof) and chose to opt out of the concussion settlement, they would get nothing, right?

  44. elclavero says: Sep 3, 2014 10:39 PM

    Honestly, there’s a lot of dangerous jobs out there.football has its risks…there is tremendous salary to take those risks..there’s many dangerous jobs that don’t come close to paying league minimum wages…you have to make the choice to accept the risks…seaue could have retired after five years, but he made choice to pay longer…Jim Brown retired early

  45. defscottyb says: Sep 3, 2014 11:08 PM

    RiP Junior

  46. defscottyb says: Sep 3, 2014 11:13 PM

    I hope they lose that wrongful death suit. Don’t cave and settle NFL because it’s not their fault. Big money grab by his broke family. Go get jobs.

  47. ashevillebucs says: Sep 4, 2014 1:31 AM

    Of course the players knew there were risks, that goes without saying. However, the NFL had substantial scientific information on the long term effects of concussions. They had an obligation to not only share that information with the players, but to work aggressively to minimize those risks via equipment and procedural changes. Instead of doing so, they denied that conclusive data existed and failed to try to implement changes that could at least minimize the risk. And, they were wrong for doing so.

    Do I think most, if not all, of the players would have remained in the NFL and collected their large salaries? Yes, I do.

    But, the NFL denied them an opportunity to make an informed decision based on the latest scientific information. If that happened in any other industry, the company would have opened itself up to lawsuits. This is no different.

  48. joetoronto says: Sep 4, 2014 5:23 AM

    A real man doesn’t commit suicide, leaving his kids twisting in the wind forever.

  49. FinFan68 says: Sep 4, 2014 4:35 PM

    ashevillebucs says:
    Sep 4, 2014 1:31 AM
    Of course the players knew there were risks, that goes without saying. However, the NFL had substantial scientific information on the long term effects of concussions. They had an obligation to not only share that information with the players, but to work aggressively to minimize those risks via equipment and procedural changes.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The NFLPA knew everything the league knew because they were involved in the discussions and received the same reports the league did. I would argue that in and of itself is notifying the players. Also, the union has complained about/tried to block almost every single safety related change that doesn’t include less work for more pay. They even complained about leg pads because they wouldn’t look cool or be as fast as they thought they were. Please. It is ridiculous that the NFLPA has not been involved in any of these suits until very recently.

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