Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge Fears NFL Concussion Settlement Isn't Large Enough

Junior Seau sustained many concussions during his career and was suffering from a degenerative brain disease when he killed himself in May 2012.
Otto Greule Jr.
Getty Images
Junior Seau sustained many concussions during his career and was suffering from a degenerative brain disease when he killed himself in May 2012.

A federal judge rejected a preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement over NFL concussion claims.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody said she was concerned the settlement may not be enough to cover all retired players.

The AP adds:

"'I am primarily concerned that not all retired NFL football players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their (families) ... will be paid,' Brody wrote in a 12-page opinion filed Tuesday morning.

"The proposed settlement, negotiated over several months, is designed to last at least 65 years.

"The awards would vary based on an ex-player's age and diagnosis. A younger retiree with Lou Gehrig's disease would get $5 million, those with serious dementia cases would get $3 million and an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000."

As we reported last summer, the league and more than 4,500 retired players reached an agreement calling for the league to contribute $765 million to a fund that would pay "medical and other benefits, as well as compensation" to those players who were injured during their careers.

ESPN reports that the agreement is supposed to last 65 years. ESPN adds:

"'We respect Judge Brody's request for additional information as a step towards preliminary approval,' NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement. 'We will work with the plaintiffs' attorneys to supply that information promptly to the court and special master. We are confident that the settlement is fair and adequate, and look forward to demonstrating that to the court.'

"Christopher Seeger, one of the attorneys for the retired players, also said in a statement that he is confident the settlement ultimately will be approved.

"'We are confident that the settlement will be approved after the Court conducts its due diligence on the fairness and adequacy of the proposed agreement,' Seeger said in the statement. 'Analysis from economists, actuaries and medical experts will confirm that the programs established by the settlement will be sufficiently funded to meet their obligations for all eligible retired players. We look forward to working with the Court and Special Master to address their concerns, as they rightfully ensure all class members are protected."

The AP reports that some critics of the settlement think the NFL, with an annual revenue of $9 billion, should be contributing more.

"But the players' lawyers said they will face huge challenges just to get the case to trial," the AP reports. "They would have to prove the injuries were linked to the players' NFL service and should not be handled through league arbitration."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Related Content