Seeger and other supporters of the settlement have argued that the deal was necessary in part because the case against the NFL is difficult to prove. The players, they noted, will have to show that the brain damage was caused by their years in the NFL even though the players participated in youth, high school and college football. They also will have to prove that the NFL suppressed the link between football and brain damage from players and fans even though that connection was discovered relatively recently.
Strauss repeated concerns that have been voiced by other attorneys, who argued that the negotiations that resulted in the deal lacked transparency. Many believe that the case never should have been treated as a class action because the players and their families have such disparate issues and injuries.
Strauss said he hoped other players might follow the Seau family's lead and opt out of the deal to force the two sides to negotiate a better deal.
"Ideally, our opt-out may cause others to consider that, and, in the ideal world, would cause the league and the plaintiffs [lead attorneys] to perhaps re-examine the settlement so they come up with something that addresses the claims of all those in the [lawsuit] and not just the few," Strauss said.
It is unclear how many other players, if any, have signaled their intent to oppose the deal. Strauss said the Seau family will formally notify an administrator of its intent to opt out before an Oct. 14 deadline. Players also have until that deadline to formally object to the deal. A large number of opt-outs could become a factor in the judge's decision to give final approval.
It's also not clear how -- and when -- Seau's case would be allowed to proceed back in California Superior Court in San Diego. It first needs to be remanded back to that court by Judge Anita Brody, who is overseeing the mass case, which conceivably could be held up for years in appeals.
"That's another problem; our case could be held hostage by the settlement," Strauss said. "We're opting out, but also want to proceed, want to be able to get on with the case."
Seau, who was 43, shot himself in the chest with a .357 Magnum revolver following years in which his family and friends noticed marked changes in his behavior. Previously a responsible and loving father, Seau lost control of his finances, gambled excessively and became disconnected from his relatives, including his children.
Shortly after his death, the NFL intervened in an unseemly battle among neuroscientists who wanted to study his brain. Members of the NFL's concussion committee helped direct the brain to the National Institutes of Health, where five separate neuroscientists found signs of the destructive neurofibrillary tangles that cause CTE.
Seau's case might pose a larger threat to the NFL than any other player suing the league. In addition to his name recognition and popularity, his medical record and clinical history are well-documented. In addition, his career coincided with an era in which the NFL's own research arm, created by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, denied repeatedly in scientific articles and public statements that NFL players are susceptible to brain damage.