When the National Football League began paying out settlements to retired players and their family members affected by brain injuries sustained while playing professional football, the league hoped to repair its brand and the game's image. Original estimates for the first 10 years of payouts projected to be around $400 million dollars.
Boy, were they wrong. As of July 30, 2018, two years after claims began to be filed, NFL concussion settlements have already soared north of $500 million dollars.
Just two years into this claims process, the NFL has paid out 521 monetary awards tallying up to the whopping half a billion dollar total -- there are currently over 2,000 claims that have been filed in the first two years.
Christopher Seeger, co-lead class counsel for the former NFL players said, "We encourage all eligible former players to immediately sign up for a baseline assessment, and they can take comfort in knowing that compensation will be available for more than 60 years if they develop a qualifying condition.
"The fact that $500 million in claims have been approved in less than two years proves that this settlement is fulfilling its promise to former NFL players and their families."
The NFL's task to combat Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, began in the wake of a massive settlement to pay former players and their families for brain injuries sustained during their careers. CTE is linked to further issues like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and early dementia.
Defendants for the ex-players argue that the league purposely withheld information about how the game was negatively affecting their health and rushed them back onto the field to promote their fast-paced, hard-hitting product.
The original settlement agreement, prior to the 2013 NFL season, was tentatively set for $765 million dollars worth of payments to retired NFL players. That cap was removed in 2015, as payment for the class action suit expected to be closer to $1.4 billion.
Gene Locks of Locks Law Firm, filed a motion in March requesting an additional counsel be appointed to help the 20,000 former players expected to file for compensation stating the NFL is "in danger of failing in its execution."
Locks request was denied by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
They say any press is good press, except when it entails life-altering brain injuries.
In July 2017, an independent study of 202 brains of deceased individuals discovered that 110 of the 111 brains of former NFL players had traces of CTE.
In recent years, terrifying moments like Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage's on-field concussion continue to plague the NFL's on-going work to make the United States' most popular sport safer.
Players are retiring at an early age in favor of their health, too. The most recent was Ohio State Buckeyes alum and NFL linebacker Joshua Perry, who retired at only 24-years-old.
The NFL is a mess right now salvaging a fan base irritated with the league's national anthem policy, but also losing players at an alarming rate, as well as watching more and more players come forward with brain injuries sustained during their careers.
Time is not on the side of the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell. The preseason kicks off tomorrow when the Chicago Bears take on the Baltimore Ravens in the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
If the league keeps taking lumps like this, there's no telling how long fans, both young and old, will continue supporting the nation's most popular sport.
Football is under attack, and it's up to the National Football League to right the ship.
READ MORE: Former Super Bowl Champion Says He Suffered More Than 2,000 Concussions During NFL Career
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