PHILADELPHIA — The NFL has reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 former players, agreeing to compensate sufferers, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.
The agreement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge, was announced Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation.
More than 4,500 former athletes — some suffering from dementia, depression or Alzheimer's that they blamed on repeated blows to the head — have sued the NFL since the first case was filed in Philadelphia in 2011.
They accused the league of concealing the long-term dangers of concussions and rushing injured players back onto the field, while glorifying and profiting from the kind of bone-jarring hits that make for spectacular highlight-reel footage.
Under the settlement, individual payouts would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer's disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their deaths with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy; and $3 million for players with dementia, said lead plaintiffs' lawyer Christopher Seeger.
The NFL has insisted that safety has always been a top priority, and in settling the thousands of cases it admitted no wrongdoing.
The plaintiffs include Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl selection Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
Kevin Turner, a former running back with the Patriots and Eagles who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, thanked the two sides for reaching an agreement that he thought most ex-players would support.
“Chances are ... I won't make it to 50 or 60,” said Turner, now 44. “I have money now to put back for my children to go to college and for a little something to be there financially.”
All former NFL players are eligible to seek care, screening or compensation. The amounts they receive will be based on their age, condition and years of play.
Current players are not covered.
Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed agreement and will consider approving it later.