NFL settles Junior Seau wrongful death lawsuit

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Although most former players will have any benefits arising from head injuries while playing professional football processed and resolved by broader concussion settlement, players had the right to opt out and pursue their own claims against the league. That’s what the family of Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau did.

On Friday, the NFL settled the Seau suit.

Via Teri Figueroa of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the two sides reached a confidential agreement to resolve the litigation arising from Seau’s May 2012 suicide. Seau’s brain showed evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, and his family blamed Seau’s suicide on years of concussions suffered while playing pro football.

A first-round pick in 1990, Seau played through 2009. That’s the year the NFL reluctantly admitted (after years of stonewalling) that concussions can cause long-term health issues. As a linebacker, Seau was routinely delivering and absorbing hits with and to his helmet.

Attorney Steve Strauss explained that the amount of the settlement could not be discussed, but that Seau’s clients (his four children and his estate) are “pleased” by the outcome.

According to Figueroa, Seau’s estate would have received $4 million under the formula established by the concussion settlement. Presumably, Seau’s estate got more than that.

Confidentiality provisions are very common in civil settlements negotiated between private parties in litigation. The side paying the money strongly prefers to avoid letting the world know the amount of the payment, in order to avoid both negative P.R. consequences and an open invitation for others to pursue a similar recovery from a company that is perceived as being willing to buy its way out of lawsuits. That necessarily gives the claim even more value, and potentially boosted the Seau estate’s recovery.

Also potentially boosting the Seau estate’s recovery was the league’s clear desire to avoid opening its files to careful inspection regarding what the league knew and when the league knew it regarding concussions. If that information was ever made available for widespread public inspection and media scrutiny, NFL football could quickly be relegated to third-class status in the landscape of American pro sports.

39 responses to “NFL settles Junior Seau wrongful death lawsuit

  1. The rule changes related to helmet hits are more about money than player safety. You can be sure that more rule changes and lawsuits are coming….

  2. Good!!!! Glad to see that a family followed through against the NFL, who has tried for years to cover up the correlation between concussions and CTE. I actually wish more had done that, instead of settling, as the amount received, would only make a small dent in the cost of medical bills. So sad…….

  3. FanofSomeOtherTeam says:
    October 6, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Players understand the risks they take and accept the risk for what they are paid. That has been the case since the 60’s. Families suing the NFL is plain wrong.
    ——————————

    That’s just completely wrong. Players didn’t know the concussion risks, and as it was shown a few years ago, when the NFL found out the correlation between concussions/head hits and CTE they INTENTIONALLY hid it for almost 10 years- that’s a bit of a different scenario.

  4. Anyone who uses the “they knew the risks” argument is an uninformed idiot.

    The nfl went out of their way to lie and misinformed the players and the public.

  5. Players bodies have been breaking down at young ages and players have died early since the 60’s. The facts show this. Very few players if any turn down a chance to play in the NFL because of CTE/concussions.

    Money is a powerful motivator.

  6. I have mixed emotions concerning these law suits. I understand the families who have lost their loved ones blaming football for what happened to them. But — I also feel that anyone who doesn’t understand that when you get a concussion it’s bad for your brain is either foolish or very naive.
    I have been a big boxing fan for most of my life. Dementia from fighting — which was commonly referred to as “punch drunk” — has been an affliction of boxers since the very beginning. Anyone who followed boxing knows it comes from blows to the head. So, I ask myself how could people not know that the same thing could happen from being concussed in football?
    Football has always been a very dangerous sport and in fact, there was talk of banning it in the late 19th and early 20th century. Anyone who ever played football — on any level — understands how tough it is on your body. From the very beginning, it has always been the choice of the individual to play it or not play it.
    Presently, my grandson is playing football on a combined 7th, 8th, and 9th grade school team. One of his teammates is in concussion protocol (yes, they have it now in schools here in NY). So can the schools expect these law suits down the road and therefore not allow football to be played? And is this the beginning of the end for football?
    If I were an owner, I would make part of every contract include a warning similar to what cigarettes have on their pack — “warning — playing football is extremely hazardous and can contribute to declining health and even shorter life span”. I would add, “if you decide to play, by signing this contract you are absolving the NFL and this team of all responsibility in regard to future health concerns”.

  7. Seau DID have CTE but blaming all his issues on it is a huge stretch. In interviews after his death (San Diego Union Tribune, Oct 14, 2012) a picture emerged thru his former colleagues that even from his earliest playing days he had a split personality – “the Good Junior and the Bad Junior”. After his death, the paper said much of this was swept under the rug to protect his legacy.

    “The New Zealand Health Study” (Browne, Wells & McGee, 2006) showed the higher incidence of severe mental health issues of Samoans (5 to 10% higher than the rest of the population). Socioeconomic and culture were factors. And these were reflected in Seau’s family too – dirt poor and dad was big on regular beatings as a means of control for even the smallest transgression. Early relationship problems lead to divorce way back in 1990. And don’t tell me that 100ft cliff plunge didn’t concuss him. He was also on Zolpidem (insomnia drug) when he died despite it being a no-no for people with known personality issues.

    I’m not saying CTE made it any better, but this guy had major issues already. And the sudden depressing change in life that many professional sportsmen (not just footballers) suffer when their playing days are over, was frankly sufficient to send “Bad Junior” over the edge.

  8. They do know the risks, that’s just ridiculous to think anything else.
    God forbid you touch a QB today, its pathetic now. Its all about Fantasy points
    and nothing else. Let the QB throw for 400 yds and stash up the points.

  9. doctorrustbelt says:

    Anyone who uses the “they knew the risks” argument is an uninformed idiot.

    The nfl went out of their way to lie and misinformed the players and the public.
    =====================================================

    Roger Staubach knew in 1980, which is why he retired. You’re an idiot.

  10. nflfan12blog says:
    October 6, 2018 at 9:22 am
    FanofSomeOtherTeam says:
    October 6, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Players understand the risks they take and accept the risk for what they are paid. That has been the case since the 60’s. Families suing the NFL is plain wrong.
    ——————————

    That’s just completely wrong. Players didn’t know the concussion risks, and as it was shown a few years ago, when the NFL found out the correlation between concussions/head hits and CTE they INTENTIONALLY hid it for almost 10 years- that’s a bit of a different scenario.
    —————————————————–

    So we sue the NFL because they have the deepest pocket. What about college, high school and Pop Warner. Did we know the risks? Back then we called it getting your bell rung.

  11. It’s amazing how things have changed. Just a few years ago there was a commercial where a football player gets crushed and the trainers go out to check on him. He is lying there and his face has the never-never land look on it. When they bring him to the bench he says, “I’m Batman”. Then they give him a candy bar. It was supposed to be funny, and it was. But as soon as all the concussion stuff came out, it disappeared.
    And how about when the ESPN studio guys would watch video of NFL players being crushed and they’d holler “he was jacked up!” In fact, I think they called the segment “jacked up”. That disappeared, too.
    Years ago NFL Films did a show where all the footage was shown in super slow motion and they synchronized it to classical music. The great John Facenda narrated it as only he could and said “like a beautiful ballet……”. How prophetic his narration was because now they ought to put tutus on the QB’s!

  12. Don’t let your love for the sport of football take away your humanity. In the end, these guys wearing the shiny helmets are people with wives and children. Acknowledge that CTE is a real thing and something needs to be done to help prevent it. I’ve seen way too many stories about normal guys suddenly losing it to believe it’s coincidence. You don’t see all these stories in the NBA or MLB. At least not nearly as often. The NFL tries to sweep it under the rug, but if you pay attention, there’s a lot of former players struggling.

  13. It’s an assumption that this tragedy has anything to do with concussions. It may not have anything to do with it.

  14. Michael E says:
    October 6, 2018 at 10:11 am
    doctorrustbelt says:

    Anyone who uses the “they knew the risks” argument is an uninformed idiot.

    The nfl went out of their way to lie and misinformed the players and the public.
    =====================================================

    Roger Staubach knew in 1980, which is why he retired. You’re an idiot.
    ———————————————————————–
    You fail to mention the Cowboys Dr. cleared Staubach to keep playing and the Cowboys offered him a 2 year extension. It was an independent Cornell University Neurologist that told him he should retire.

  15. Most guys play for the money, women and ego….If they did not play football, they would have to flip burgers.

  16. The NFL put out a video about great hits in the 90’s. In this video Seau acknowledges that he gives himself concussions but that he knows it hurts the offensive player even more.

    I don’t see how his family should get a penny after that.

  17. sheetolay says:
    October 6, 2018 at 10:02 am
    NFL mirrors the tobacco industry.
    ——————————–

    And coal/oil/pollution climate deniers.

  18. I’m not a doctor. I don’t think you need a medical degree to know that constant, violent hits to the head is bad for you. So yes, they knew the risks.

  19. From the image of his public persona, Junior Seau was one of the classiest men the NFL has ever showcased. He was great for the brand, unlike today when so many hurt the brand with their self-promoting antics and cheating.

  20. You would have to be a total idiot to not understand that when 250lb men who can run a 4.4 40 yard dash crash into each other repeatedly that you risk injury. That’s why they pay guys 15 million a year to play a game. So to claim you had no idea you could suffer permanent injury is complete nonsense.

  21. nelly837 says:
    October 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm
    You would have to be a total idiot to not understand that when 250lb men who can run a 4.4 40 yard dash crash into each other repeatedly that you risk injury. That’s why they pay guys 15 million a year to play a game. So to claim you had no idea you could suffer permanent injury is complete nonsense.
    ——————-

    No difference than a coal miner who accepts a job mining coal while knowing those before him died of Black Lung disease. Employers are liable. The courts say so.

  22. The NFL hiding CTE related problems from concussions is exactly why no one should ever trust their employer or any corporation. They all want only one thing nowadays, more money.

  23. The players absurd salaries have nothing to do with the leagues liability in this matter. The Bears paid Mack because he’s good at what he does, not because he risks getting concussions. Rookies wage scales were bargained as were veteran minimums. I don’t know what these former players are waiting for….they should have Seau’s family lawyer on their speed dial.

  24. Again, it’s not like any of these players past, present, or future don’t know the risks involved with contact sports. The NFL should make every single player currently in the league, or who will be entering the league in the years to come to sign a liability waiver stating that they will not be held responsible for anything the players suffer after their career is over.

    Otherwise this crap is going to go on until the end of days. All these players suing because of long term effects of concussions have absolutely no problems telling their kids, or nephews, or any other family member to play the game, yet there they are with their hands held out waiting for the handout.

  25. ARod(in his collarbone) says:
    October 6, 2018 at 3:56 pm
    Again, it’s not like any of these players past, present, or future don’t know the risks involved with contact sports. The NFL should make every single player currently in the league, or who will be entering the league in the years to come to sign a liability waiver stating that they will not be held responsible for anything the players suffer after their career is over.

    Otherwise this crap is going to go on until the end of days. All these players suing because of long term effects of concussions have absolutely no problems telling their kids, or nephews, or any other family member to play the game, yet there they are with their hands held out waiting for the handout.
    ————————–

    Liability waivers for personal bodily injury as a condition of employment are prohibited by US labor laws. If they could get away with it, all employers would make you sign a waiver before you ever clock in the first time.

  26. Anyone saying that players knew/know about the head trauma, it’s the fact that nfl team doctors either misdiagnosed or just didn’t tell players that they had concussions. Basically the nfl back than and probably still today is one big malpractice

  27. Every player knew/knows the risks but still play! No sympathy for these dolts! No more lawsuits for being stupid! It’s nothing more than a money grab from his heirs!

  28. Deric Gregory says:
    October 6, 2018 at 11:30 am
    Don’t let your love for the sport of football take away your humanity. In the end, these guys wearing the shiny helmets are people with wives and children. Acknowledge that CTE is a real thing and something needs to be done to help prevent it. I’ve seen way too many stories about normal guys suddenly losing it to believe it’s coincidence. You don’t see all these stories in the NBA or MLB. At least not nearly as often. The NFL tries to sweep it under the rug, but if you pay attention, there’s a lot of former players struggling.

    —————————————————————————————-

    My oldest brother played football (QB) from junior high through high school then enlisted in the Army. In 1967 he was stationed in Korea near the DMZ. There was a football league formed among the military personnel and he QB’d his team to a championship of the Armed Forces in Korea and got a huge trophy (about 3 feet high) which is still in his home to prove it.
    My brother is 71 now and he suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease as well as Parkinson’s Disease. He is the early stages of dementia and is slipping fast. His wife signed off on some experimental drugs with the doctors in Philadelphia about 2 years ago as part of a study to hopefully benefit him and others with those diseases.
    The point is, there are risks in many professions and these things happen to people who never played a down of pro football, too.
    And I bring this up all the time, but I think it’s very relevant. I grew up loving boxing (naturally, being from Philly) and boxers have suffered from dementia forever. But no one gave a damn about them — and still don’t. Maybe if all these concerned researchers had studied them the way they are now studying these former NFL players, there would be a lot more knowledge about CET.

  29. “Anyone who uses the “they knew the risks” argument is an uninformed idiot.
    The nfl went out of their way to lie and misinformed the players and the public.”

    Repeated blows to the head could result in both short and long term damage. Players play the game and feel every ounce of punishment the day after.
    You don’t need to go to medical school to know that.

  30. Players quote…. I’m really sore on the Mondays after a game. Playing in the NFL is like being in 20-30 head on collisions in a car each Sunday.

    So, did they not think car head on collisions weren’t dangerous?

  31. It’s funny to listen all this idiotic noise. I’ll put it this way…if it hurts, that is mother nature’s way of telling you to stop doing what you are doing. If you CHOOSE to listen or not, that is your problem and no one else’s. You can play dumb, but mother nature warned you.
    Other poster’s comments are spot on. It isn’t the NFL’s fault 100% that a player accumulated knocks to the head, goes postal, and later it comes back as another player being diagnosed with CTE. You know CTE is a accumulation thing right? You and the NFL are not that dim, right? Why is the NFL solely responsible? What about peewee, Jr varsity, varsity, college, and finally the NFL? It’s just a cash grab. Why not sue the high school or the college? Because the biggest check will come from the NFL.
    This whole hold the NFL responsible for your poor judgment, your “not knowing”, or your greed is is the NFL’s problem because they decided to pay out to past and present players. They never should of paid a dime, but now they opened Pandora’s box and now will have to pay for their bad business decision.
    The NFL is as much responsible for a players CTE as back in the day McDonald’s was responsible for some idiot dumping hot coffee in their crotch and getting burned. Hot coffee is hot, grass is green, the sky is blue, and repeated blows to the head is bad for you.
    It is amazing how some people even function in society.

  32. nflfan12blog says:

    October 6, 2018 at 9:22 am

    That’s just completely wrong. Players didn’t know the concussion risks, and as it was shown a few years ago, when the NFL found out the correlation between concussions/head hits and CTE they INTENTIONALLY hid it for almost 10 years- that’s a bit of a different scenario.
    ————————
    I knew the concussion risks when playing in junior high. lol Give me a break!

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