Photo courtesy USA TODAY Sports
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The NFL and more than 4,500 former players want
to resolve concussion-related lawsuits with a $765 million settlement
that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and
medical research, a federal judge said Thursday.
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plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of
Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They
also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family
of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
former players with neurological conditions believe their problems stem
from on-field concussions. The lawsuits accused the league of hiding
known risks of concussions for decades to return players to games and
protect its image.
The NFL has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted that safety has always been a top priority.
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U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed
settlement Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation. She still
must approve it at a later date.
The settlement likely means the
NFL won't have to disclose internal files about what it knew and when,
about concussion-linked brain problems. Lawyers had been eager to learn,
for instance, about the workings of the league's Mild Traumatic Brain
Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a
In court arguments in April, NFL lawyer Paul
Clement asked Brody to dismiss the lawsuits and send them to arbitration
under terms of the players' contract. He said that individual teams
bear the chief responsibility for health and safety under the collective
bargaining agreement, along with the players' union and the players
Players lawyer David Frederick accused the league of
concealing studies linking concussions to neurological problems for
Brody had initially planned to rule in July, but then
delayed her ruling and ordered the two sides to meet to decide which
plaintiffs, if any, had the right to sue. She also issued a gag order,
so it has been unclear in recent weeks whether any progress was being
The lawyers were due to report back to her Tuesday, but
Brody instead announced in court files Thursday that the case had
In recent years, a string of former NFL players and other
concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic
traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Those ex-players included Seau and
lead plaintiff Ray Easterling, who filed the first suit in Philadelphia
in August 2011 but later committed suicide.
About one-third of the
league's 12,000 former players have joined the litigation since 2011.
They include a few hundred "gap" players, who played during years when
there was no labor contract in place, and were therefore considered
likely to win the right to sue.