The National Football League agreed today to pay $765 million to retired football players who sued the league over head injuries that they blamed on their time playing pro football.
The NFL settled the lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 retired players but did not admit responsibility for players' injuries.
Kevin Turner, a retired running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, was one player who helped bring the lawsuit against the NFL because of his ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, diagnosis.
"The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future," Turner said.
The terms of the settlement included the NFL paying for baseline medical exams for the players, to be capped at $75 million. At the heart of the deal is a $675 million fund for players who have suffered cognitive injuries or for their families, and a research and education fund of $10 million.
Players who show medical evidence of severe cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer's or ALS will qualify to receive money from the $675 million injury compensation fund, according to the suit. Families of injured players will also be eligible.
Judge Layn Phillips, who oversaw the mediation between the NFL and plaintiffs, said the settlement does not represent an admission of guilt by the NFL that it ignored long-term effects of head injuries from league play.
"It doesn't mean that the NFL hid information or did what the plaintiffs claimed in their complaint," Phillips said.
Phillips pointed out that the settlement avoided years of litigation in which all the class members would have had to individually prove their medical conditions were related to their play in the NFL.
A total of $4 million will be divvied up among the 4,500 members of the class action to be paid over 20 years.
More than 18,000 former NFL players will be eligible for the benefits won in the settlement.
"This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players," NFL executive Jeffrey Pash said.
The NFL Players Association, the union for professional athletes, could not be immediately reached for comment.