The Proposed $765M Settlement Between Players and NFL is a Signal to All Pro Athletes: Protect Your Income
Since 2011, concussions and players’ lawsuits have been the major theme of every professional football season. With new plaintiffs coming forth every few weeks, the NFL coaches, officials and former players have been forced to deal with this subject in court on a regular basis.
According to an AP article published August 29, there were more than 4500 players who initially joined the litigation and more than 20,000 claimants will share part of the $765M settlement. At least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau.
The AP article states that the original lawsuit was filed by former NFL players, with lead plaintiff Ray Easterling, in Philadelphia in 2011. Both Easterling and Seau were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE and later committed suicide.
“I think suggesting that this settlement will defer the national dialogue away from concussions and injuries in the NFL, is false. This is not going to go away because serious injuries to players’ brains, the physical demands of the sport and the risks players are willing to take, will have long-term effects on their bodies too,” says Frank N. Darras, founding partner at DarrasLaw.
Last week, in a vote of 31-1 the NFL Competition Committee passed the crown-of-helmet rule. According to an NFLevolution.com article published August 29, the rule was proposed as part of the league’s health and safety crusade. The competition committee wanted to take away a play that could cause a concussion, by making it illegal for players to use their helmets as weapons.
Dan Hanzus, producer/writer at NFL.com reported on March 25 that, while Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk, free-agent safety Ronde Barber and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark participated in a roundtable discussion that aired Monday during NFL Network’s “Health of the Game: NFL Evolution Special Report,” the four players were universally dubious about both the defenseless receiver rule and the crown-of-helmet rule.
Players are rightfully concerned that safety is going to ruin the game and eliminate the “tough hit.” Faulk said, “it’s not gonna matter what he [a player] does in pads, because pads aren’t going to matter.”
The rigor of professional sports takes its toll on athletes. So as the rules change in the NFL and more effort is made towards safety, players still should take action to protect their financial futures, says Darras.
“The best step for any player to take, whether a rookie or a veteran, is to have a rock-solid comprehensive long-term disability policy that will protect his income should an accident, injury or sickness occur. A career ending injury can spell financial ruin so educating our professional athletes about what’s available today, to protect their financial future is crucial,” says Darras.