Lack of cap on settlement gives NFL incentive to drag its feet

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The mounting reports and allegations of the NFL’s concussion settlement paying claims too slowly aren’t surprising, in hindsight. Unfortunately, no one (me included) applied the proper amount of foresight when the concussion settlement was negotiated, and eventually tweaked in order to secure court approval.

The moment came after Judge Anita Brody rejected a settlement that included a $765 million pool of potential payments, funded by the NFL. To secure court approval, the NFL agreed to remove the cap, and to replace it with no cap at all.

At that point, the NFL assumed open-ended liability. Instead of $765 million, the NFL could end up paying, well, who knows how much? So the best way to avoid a worst-case scenario consists of the NFL dragging its feet wherever and however it can as to each and every claim being made.

“We are ensuring that legitimate claims are processed and paid in a timely way to those individuals and families who deserve these benefits,” that NFL contends amid allegations that such foot-dragging is occurring. “No legitimate claim has been rejected.”

The key word is “legitimate.” The former player may be convinced that his claim is legitimate, and the NFL may disagree. Or the NFL may simply require more i’s to be dotted, t’s to be crossed, and hurdles to be overcome in order to get payment.

If the NFL had simply cut a check and surrendered all administrative responsibilities to a third party, the league would have been done with the process. The fact that the league will be on the hook for any and all “legitimate” claims that fall within the scope of payment under the terms of the settlement necessarily incentivizes the league to apply a more stringent and exacting definition of “legitimate.”

Whether this is a “legitimate” approach to dealing with the men who made the game what it now is, and to whom the NFL allegedly lied for decades about the full extent of the risks they were taking, also is subject to interpretation, based on one’s perspective.

11 responses to “Lack of cap on settlement gives NFL incentive to drag its feet

  1. It has been speculated for decades and known for years that CTE was caused by the violent hits in football, yet every year millions of young men from pewee to professional play knowing full well the potential consequences. Every year the NFL passes more rules trying to prevent injuries to football players. No hitting above the shoulders, defenseless hits, blocks below the knees, etc. etc. And every year we see football players fined and suspended for these types of hits only for them and the NFLPA appeal them. If an employee knowingly and willingly sticks his hand in a wood chipper knowing full well he can lose that hand, their employer should not be responsible for their dumbass decision. The old timers who played years ago and was lied to about the dangers when the league knew full well, yes they have a case. But in todays modern world there is enough evidence and facts readily available that no one should be able to claim ignorance.

  2. This is becoming comical and the attorneys keep collecting their fees. The “old timers”; those that played in the earlier NFL were lied too. Where do the writers get this BS. Players played and got paid. A small percentage came away from the game with CTE. Smokers smoked. No one made either the smoker or the player do what they did. The big lie is being created by the attorneys and they continue to get paid. There are way, way to many attorneys. Answer, graduate law school students every 12 years not every year. Thin out the herds.

  3. Lawyers will get the lion’s share of any settlement just like in the real world. With an “Open Cap” that is the only result that could expected. The Judge, by throwing out the settlement, tossed out any real hope for many of those affected. Too bad it ended that way.

  4. Man, what’s wrong with an attorney getting paid? We have this legal system so that we don’t bash each other in the head, attorneys are necessary to make it work. Attorneys don’t get more than the victims as a whole, but do collect more than an individual person.

  5. well it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Under a fixed cap that does not adjust for inflation, and given how much health care costs go up, that cap will be a pittance in 20 years. Let’s say health care costs rise 10% per year, which is conservative: in 20 years, those costs will have quadrupled. Take your average 30-year old player today who is on the downside of his career, has absorbed god knows how many brain-rattling hits, and at age 50 needs to draw from a fund that is close to empty? Yeah, good luck with that.

  6. This whole lawsuit is so dumb to me. This is equivalent of coffee being to hot. It does suck that these players are having issues….but come on its football …its violent, and anyone can see that with a shred of common sense. Yet these players played anyway. I hate arguing for the man, but this seems so unfair. I do customer service and have for a long time….I deal with Jerks on a regular basis. Over time this has caused me to hate going to work in increase my apathy for the job…. and for people. Who knows what other psychological effects this has done to me….I think folks in my industry have been misled. Not to mention I sit all the time at work….as has folks done in my profession for years. Who knows what type of physical effects that has had on my health. I think my entire industry should be able to sue for all the damages that science is now showing comes from sitting too much. What these judges are allowing is such a slippery slope.

  7. “The mounting reports and allegations of the NFL’s concussion settlement paying claims too slowly aren’t surprising, in hindsight.”

    Just another clear sign that the league doesn’t care the slightest about player safety. They concealed the facts about CTE, fought paying a single dime to those suffering from it, and are doing everything they can to pay out as little as possible under the settlement.

    Everything the league is doing regarding “player safety” is really about parity and eliminating some of the advantages the better teams have. It has zero to do with actual player safety.

  8. Goodell or somebody very close to him is making money hand over fist on this thing. Nobody was talking about concussions until Goodell started the whole thing. Something is wrong here.

  9. 1) I scoffed at the 700 million cap initially applied to this settlement and I didn’t hear that a judge wouldn’t accept that. The players nearly got screwd again by the incompetent NFLPA.

    2) If I recall correctly new and current NFL players have forfeited their rights to file suit if they played past 2012ish. There is only a finite amount of former players who can apply for part of the settlement.

    3) CTE is not about “you knew bad hits were bad all along, you should’ve known better”. CTE is a result of subconcussive hits to the head, meaning that its likelihood increased every hit, not just from every concussion as previously thought.

    4) My opinion: any claims denied for being “illegitimate” should be reviewed by an independent third party medical staff. There is a rich history of private organizations denying legitimate medical claims as “not covered” or “unrelated” or “lacking in proof” when left unchecked.

    5) More of my opinion: everybody who represented the players for the NFLPA on this deal should be fired by the players. An industry of 600+ millionaires should be able to afford better lawyers than the clowns who negotiated this deal.

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