The NFL and thousands of its former players have reached a proposed settlement that would spend millions on concussion-related compensation, medical exams and research.
A federal judge said Thursday the NFL and plaintiffs including the family of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau have reached a proposed $765 million settlement of concussion-related lawsuits.
Seau's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the league claiming the legendary linebacker’s May 2012 suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits during football.
Other plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon is also a plaintiff in the suit.
The lawsuits accuse 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.
Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed settlement Thursday. She still needs to approve the deal, which comes after months of court-ordered mediation.
The settlement likely means the NFL won't have to disclose internal files about what it knew, 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 rheumatologist.
After the meeting, former San Diego Chargers Mike Goff say Seau was such a high-profile player, many more people are now taking a hard look at things like concussions, brain injuries and depression in former players.
Seau was not the first former NFL player who killed himself, then was found to have CTE. Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling are others. Even so, it was Seau's larger-than-life persona on and off the field that has sparked more discussion.
“It opens up the conversation because of what Junior Seau meant to the NFL,” Goff said.
Former Chargers running back Terrel Fletcher who played with Seau - expected a settlement four times the current amount.
"The national football league has had information for over 20 years they've been collecting concerning head injuries that was not given to NFL players, at least so we can make more informed decisions about our future," he said.
Jim Weatherly, a former player and president of San Diego's NFL alumni association is happy the lawsuit won't drag on for years.
"There are guys that have a problem, but don't know they have a problem," he said. "They're going through divorce after divorce after divorce, they're going through job after job after job and there's something not right."