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August 31, 2013

NFL players not all happy with settlement

NEW YORK — The hundreds of millions of dollars the NFL is ready to pay former players sounds great, until you stretch it out over 20 years and divide it among thousands of people.

Which is why some former players and others think the league is getting off cheap in its tentative settlement with victims of concussion-related brain injuries.

The deal announced Thursday to settle 4,500 or so claims is awaiting approval by a federal judge in Philadelphia.

“$765 million?” asked former Minnesota Viking Brent Boyd, one of the original plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The breakdown is $1.2 million over 20 years per team. What is that, a third of the average salary? There is no penalty there. It’s pocket change.”

Former players union president and Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae complained that the NFL does not have to admit culpability.

“The unfortunate thing is that the general fan, they see $765 million and they think it’s a windfall for the players. It’s great for ... the guys that would fall in the category of needing immediate help,” Mawae said. “But it’s $700 million worth of hush money that they will never have to be accountable for.”

Others former players didn’t seem as concerned about the amount of money, preferring to focus on the timing of the settlement. They said that getting medical coverage now for their peers — or themselves — who suffer from a variety of brain ailments and other health problems is essential.

“Those people who need help now, really need the help the most and need it right now and not five years from now, will get the help,” said former fullback Kevin Turner, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was one of the lead plaintiffs. “That is key.”

“It is hard to put a dollar figure on ALS or Parkinson’s or dementia and all these things. But if you ask me, I think it is fair.”

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