The proposed NFL concussion settlement is back in the hands of a federal judge -- and this time there's no cap on how much the league will be required to pay.
Unlike the original $765 million proposal, which was rejected by the judge in January because she was concerned it was inadequate, the new compensation program will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition.
The proposal, which would cover any retired player whether he had joined the lawsuit or not, has been submitted for preliminary approval to U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia. Players can still opt out of the deal, which is intended to last 65 years.
"This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future," plaintiffs' attorneys Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss said in a written statement. "This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed, and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse."
The revised agreement provides benefits for retired players and their families, as well as a separate fund to offer all eligible retirees a comprehensive medical exam and follow-up benefits, and an injury-compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment. In cases in which the retiree has died or is unable to pursue his claim, a family member can do so on his behalf.
"Today's agreement reaffirms the NFL's commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation," NFL Senior Vice President Anastasia Danias said in a written statement. "We are eager to move forward with the process of court approval and implementation of the settlement."
The agreement also sets aside $10 million for education on concussion prevention. If preliminary approval is granted, retired players will be formally notified and an approval hearing would likely take place later this year.
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