The NFL has settled a giant class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 4,500 former players who alleged the league had not enough to combat the problem of head injuries. According to the Associated Press, the agreement calls for the league to spend $765 million to "fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research." The vast majority (about $675 million) will go to players who suffered cognitive injuries, but with so many plaintiffs, that works out to less than $150,000 per person, not counting any legal fees.
The fine details still need to be worked out and approved by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody, but it appears to be a huge sigh of relief for the league. For starters, they will
almost certainly not have to admit any wrongdoing, despite being accused of ignoring or even hiding the risk of repetitive head injuries for decades. They will avoid a messy and embarrassing trial, that would have forced league executives to answer uncomfortable questions in court and even raise doubts about the integrity of the entire sport of football.
And most of all, they're getting off cheap. That $765 million is less than half of what ESPN pays the league to broadcast just one season of Monday Night Football. (Which is not quite as valuable as Sunday Night Football.) The payments will also be staggered over the course of 17 years. A long-drawn out court fight could have cost that much or more, even if they won.
$170K a plaintiff before lawyers' fees? Will the #NFL also have to sit out a half?— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) August 29, 2013
Gut reax why players settled:uncertainty of coming judge's ruling on whether this is a CBA issue;dire need 4 funds among some class members— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) August 29, 2013
Once NFL concussion settlement gets approved, franchise values will jump even more. Some potential owners shied away on damage speculation.— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 29, 2013
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.