Monday’s CTE admission quickly becomes an issue in concussion settlement


Monday’s sky-is-blue concession from NFL senior V.P. of player health and safety Jeff Miller regarding the link between Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy and football could have some less obvious collateral damage for the league.

As explained by Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, former players still opposing the concussion settlement quickly composed and filed a letter with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit pointing out Miller’s comments. His remarks have relevance to the settlement because the formula for receiving payment for CTE applies only to those players who are determined to have it after death. It provides nothing for players who may be living with CTE, unless CTE manifests itself through various specific and severe diseases or conditions.

“The settlement in my mind is tantamount to basically not allowing anybody who’s alive to recover anything,” Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti recently said, via the New York Daily News. “When you think about it, clinically you can’t diagnose CTE until you’re dead, until you have an autopsy. This thing about not having any limit on the award — well, if you can’t collect the award, what good is it? . . . What can be done? What could be done is for the NFL and [Commissioner Roger] Goodell and everybody to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about the guys who made the league what it is today. And that’s us.”

As we explained a year ago, the settlement as approved by Judge Anita Brody mishandles the CTE issue, giving deceased players who have CTE the right to benefits but creating a once-per-decade duty to meet and confer regarding whether the science has advanced to the point of permitting a CTE diagnosis to be made in a living patient.

Judge Brody reconciled these conflicting positions by on one hand explaining that “[t]he study of CTE is nascent and the symptoms of the disease, if any, are unknown” and by reasoning on the other that CTE at death “serves as a proxy for Qualifying Diagnoses diseased players could have received while living.” It’s a nonsensical balancing act that potentially gives compensation to men who had CTE but never any symptoms with those who had CTE along with cognitive problems but not nearly enough to fall within the narrow band of serious conditions (like ALS) that trigger payment during a player’s lifetime.

The formula creates an all-or-nothing proposition for players while still alive with the promise of possibly getting something after dying. A more fair balance should be reached allowing players with real symptoms that fall below the “Qualifying Diagnoses” to receive compensation while still alive — and also to slam the door on players who are determined to have CTE at death but who had no symptoms of cognitive problems at any point during their lifetimes.

30 responses to “Monday’s CTE admission quickly becomes an issue in concussion settlement

  1. What a mess. The major college football programs must be sweating bullets. Just as much money to lose, and more sympathetic plaintiffs since few will be NFL millionaires.

  2. Now you know why the previous doctor for the NFL “denied” any link to CTE from football. He was ordered to do so by the NFL lawyers running the league. Also, this is why we saw those draconian rules against headshots, “defenseless” receivers, QBs, helmet to helmet, etc. The NFL knew about CTE, just like the tobacco industry knew the link between cancer and their products.

  3. From what I saw the big question is how much of a difference is there in the CTE rate between footballers and the general population.

  4. Even as a Pats fan, this makes all the todo about air in footballs look kinda silly…

  5. At what point is this issue going to be thrown back, at the players? It is not normal human behavior to put one’s body thru the abuse that professional athletes (NFL, NHL, UFC, etc.) do.
    The persons engaging in these sports, are all of a level of intelligence above that of Special Needs Individuals, and should be able to discern that activities such as Fighting, Hockey & Football are inherently dangerous, and can cause everlasting negative effects, on the human body. They see dollar signs, and sign those huge contracts. I believe that a vast majority of these players, should be putting aside money, specifically to pay for the post retirement injuries that they are causing to their bodies now. Why should “The League” be saddled w/this burden?

  6. Coal miners get black lung. Sailors had asbestos caused mesothelioma. Carpenters destroy their shoulders. Everybody is broken at the end. You do what you do to get what you need. Football players get brain damage, so do boxers. These athletes are no different than anybody else, they just complain in a more public forum. Buy more long term care insurance and quit whining.

  7. The NFL needs to just write a blank check and pay for any former player’s healthcare. They make enough money and it would pay huge dividends in PR and would delay the inevitable wussification by mitigating the worse effects of this violent game.

    Really, they need to be doing everything they can to make their veterans look as healthy as possible. Every time the public sees some poor sap with horrible brain injuries, we move closer to professional flag football. You’d think Goodell would realize that and get these guys help as soon as symptoms of any kind manifest themselves.

  8. Lineman need to start from a stand up / crouched position.
    Head first hits need to be eliminated.
    But padding MUST be put on the OUTSIDE of the helmet weather players like it or not.

  9. What needs reexamination is the BU group’s credibility. The league’s “admission” cited Ann McKee’s research; McKee is perhaps the most demagogic of the BU group in that she doesn’t go where the facts go, she looks for CTE and dumbs down the definition and cherry-picks the research to find it. The simple fact is CTE has been defined downward instead of presented objectively to attack the game.

  10. NFL needs to grant every player that is vested full health insurance once they stop playing. The cost would be a drop in the bucket for the owners. Just raise beer 50 cents and that would take care of the problem. The fans will pay it

    If people enjoy watching players sacrifintheir body for entertainment the. They should all chip in for their welfare down the road. It’s only fair.

  11. Most ex-players are doing well. There is a percentage of people more susceptible to brain damage because they’re allergic to glutens. The high carb diets that are loaded with glutens and that Americans, and to a larger extent, football players have been eating for the last 40 years are causing brain inflammation in the percentage of people that are gluten intolerant. Now that many people are going to a gluten free diet, watch the brain injuries start to disappear. But that’s not going to work for the people that hate football, so go ahead with the witch hunt.

  12. Miller will be out of a job within a week. Though they will try to sell it as a resignation, probably to ‘spend more time with family’.

  13. Instead of the NFL paying after someone dies, pay whoever thinks they have it. Then when they die, if they didn’t have it, they can pay it back.
    Same principle, just a different way to look at it.

  14. The NFL needs to take care of the families of former players. When AND IF they’re able to come up with a test to diagnose living players, then they should provide some added retirement benefits in the form of higher retirement pay and/or insurance. Then the NFL needs to have a hard deadline for players playing now and in the future basically saying, ‘you were warned…”

    The players have seen the deterioration going on with their bodies for decades and it doesn’t take a genius to understand not only bones, tendons and muscle are being injured. As someone else mentioned, I would like to see a comparison study against low-impact athletes and everyday middle-aged adults.

    You can’t convince me that the majority of this push isn’t players who had poor financial planning and bottom-feeder lawyers to profit from it’s litigation and potential settlement. The NFL handled this wrong and deserves the villain label but the irrefutable science doesn’t exist yet.

  15. I’m very sympathetic to these former players and their health issues, but as others have said, this is the world that lawyers have given us. If the NFL doesn’t stonewall to some extent, they’ll be ordered to hand over the entire farm.

    I think fans need to understand this point as I frequently see the same people criticize the NFL for not doing enough and criticize the NFL for “ruining the game” with safety measures.

  16. “iandemartino says:
    Mar 15, 2016 6:54 PM
    The NFL needs to just write a blank check and pay for any former player’s healthcare. They make enough money and it would pay huge dividends in PR and would delay the inevitable wussification by mitigating the worse effects of this violent game.”

    I completely agree with this, but it doesn’t sound like its good enough for the former players. When I hear the guy say “his thing about not having any limit on the award — well, if you can’t collect the award, what good is it?” I think while he has a point, I also detect an undertone of “those of us who played football before it became a multi-million dollar profession deserve some folding money in our old age”.

  17. what a joke. theirs little to no evidence that concussions are actually real and here u have these people trying to railroad the shield. thankfull we have the commish takin the lead on this!

  18. If this continues to be an NFL versus NFLPA or retired players battle, everyone is going to lose. They had better learn to work together on this. The NFL’s revenues are currently $12-13 billion dollars per year. The largest insurance companies have revenues ten times that amount. Once the insurance companies stop selling policies … goodbye football as we know it. I’m not sure how you make the sport safer, with the size and speed of athletes continuing to increase, but the reality is, concussions are caused by the collision between the brain and the skull, and as long as there are collisions to the head, coming faster and with more mass behind them, things are going to get worse.

  19. You can tell he has brain damage because it looks like he’s wearing a Vikings helmet.

  20. the truly sad part is the NFL will write huge check as it should but the maggot attorneys will get 40 or 50% or the cash .The men that got long term damage get less than they could and should get so the lawyers vampires can take their unholy cut. Any judge with a set that dangled would limit the attorney’s compensation to 5 or 10 % …. still a massive amount and thus players get more for their long term care .

  21. realtruthteller100 says:
    Mar 15, 2016 7:56 PM
    what a joke. theirs little to no evidence that concussions are actually real and here u have these people trying to railroad the shield. thankfull we have the commish takin the lead on this!

    how ignorant … takimng the billionaires side that set in the A/C boxes … just go to vegas and root for the house … troll

  22. It almost seems like the media wants to eventually ban pro football. Football is a dangerous game, always has been.

  23. Weren’t these the same guys who put steroids and other drugs into their bodies to play at a high level? Maybe concussions aren’t the only issue here.

  24. Oh how the lawyers are already spending the money on third vacation homes!

    Just a public service message: Coffee is hot. If you drink to fast you will burn your mouth.

    Just a public service message #2: If you choose a dangerous occupation, that’s on you. Choose wisely.

  25. Settlement. Both sides agreed, presumably, and the judge approved it. Does anybody really believe that it was a mystery that you can get hurt playing footbsall?

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