Lawyers say NFL concussion deal has 'overwhelming' player support

Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:01pm EDT
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By Daniel Kelley

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Retired NFL players who sued the league over on-the-field concussions have overwhelmingly accepted a multimillion-dollar settlement despite serious misgivings about some of the terms, lawyers representing the players said on Tuesday.

Tuesday marked the deadline for players to agree to opt out or object to the terms of the settlement, before a Nov. 19 fairness hearing in the case.

"The deal has overwhelming support of the player community," said Christopher Seeger, the lead lawyer representing retired players.

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody granted preliminary approval to the deal in June after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on payments. Brody refused to sign off on the earlier deal because she worried the money set aside by the NFL would be insufficient.

Under the revised terms, payments of up to $5 million will be guaranteed to any retired player who develops the neurological impairments, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, widely known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Payments will be based on a formula that considers years played in the league and the players' age at diagnosis. The fund is set to last 65 years from when it is authorized.

"It is nowhere near the deal it should be," Jason Luckasevic, an attorney who filed the first concussion case against the NFL, told Reuters.

Despite the concerns, Luckasevic estimated that only two dozen of his 525 clients would opt out of the deal, freeing them to sue the NFL on their own.   Continued...

Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) speaks at a news conference announcing the Head Health Initiative, a collaboration between General Electric (GE) and the National Football League (NFL), in New York March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar