Thursday, April 23, 2015
A settlement in the NFL’s concussion lawsuit received widespread coverage. The danger football athletes face was a major focus for the majority of sources. The NCAA was rarely mentioned.
ABC World News (4/22, story 8, 1:40, Muir, 5.84M) reported that a “settlement that could cost the NFL one billion dollars” will pay “for testing, treatment and living expenses for any of the 20,000 retired players who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia now or in the future.” Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon said, “They knew about it and they didn’t tell us. That’s just like flat out lying to you.” The NFL is immune from disclosing “what it knew about concussion damage,” according to the settlement, ABC reported.
NBC Nightly News (4/22, story 5, 0:25, Holt, 7.86M) reported that former NFL athletes who develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia will get an average of $190,000, while those “diagnosed with Parkinson’s or ALS in their 30s or 40s” could get a settlement of up to $5 million.
The CBS Evening News (4/22, story 6, 1:25, Pelley, 5.08M) reported, “there is no cap on total compensation” for athletes, “but all sides agreed the costs would be about $765 million.” However, “if hundreds of thousands more” are needed to treat former players who are eligible, it “could cost the NFL upwards of one billion dollars.” Some athletes are not satisfied with the deal, as it could take months or years for them to receive payment due to expected appeals.
The AP (4/23, Dale) reports that the NFL payouts will be made over 65 years. “Critics contend the NFL is getting off lightly given annual revenues of about $10 billion,” the article reports, adding that similar lawsuits have also been filed “against the NHL, the NCAA and others,” prompting “discussion and safety reforms about sports concussions.”
The Wall Street Journal (4/23, Clark, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) also provides coverage, noting that US District Court Judge Anita Judge Brody rescinded arguments in favor of higher rewards due to the outcome of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). She said that the consequences of the brain trauma were not substantiated by science.
USA Today (4/23, Mihoces, Axon, 5.01M) reports, “Brody issued the 132-page ruling in Philadelphia saying the settlement was ‘fair, reasonable, and adequate.’” Jeff Pash, the NFL’s executive vice president and general counsel, said, “Retirees and their families will be eligible for prompt and substantial benefits and will avoid years of costly litigation.” Michael Kaplen, a New York attorney who practices brain injury law, said he expects appeals to be filed by athletes who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, as they were not included in the settlement.
The New York Times (4/23, B11, Belson, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) also reports on the ruling, noting that lawyers said Judge Brody did not rule on the NFL’s argument that the case should be dismissed due to a “collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.”
The Los Angeles Times (4/23, Fenno, 4.03M) reports the award for moderate dementia is capped at $1.5 million. “The settlement allows class members to choose certainty in light of the risks of litigation,” Judge Brody wrote. However, “The settlement cuts off compensation in most cases for players who died before 2006.”
Reuters (4/23, Ginsburg) reports that an estimated 30 percent of former athletes will end up suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Some athletes, such as 24-year-old San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, are even choosing to retire early due to fears of long-term head injuries.CNN (4/23, Almasy, Martin, 3.17M) reports, NFL’s top lawyer Jeff Pash said, “Today’s decision powerfully underscores the fairness and propriety of this historic settlement.” The article adds, “More than 50 former NFL players, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, have been posthumously diagnosed with” CTE.