The NFL has reached a tentative agreement with 4,500 retired professional football players over claims that the league hid what it knew about the dangers over head injuries. Retired players and their families will receive $765 million over the next 20 years.
The NFL hopes this is a storybook ending. And, in some ways, you could make the case it is. There is a lot of talk about how the NFL could have ended up paying as much as $2 billion in damages if the case had gone forward. Not only are they getting off the hook financially, but more importantly perhaps the league has admitted no wrong-doing. Had the case proceeded to trial, lawyers would have deposed NFL executives, finding out what they knew about concussions and brain injuries, and when they learned about it.
So was this a win for the NFL? It depends how you see it.
Settling the case takes a lot of wind out of all the media stories about head trauma over the last 18 months. The NFL hopes to make this all disappear. But the reality is, since this case came out, something has changed. We all know more about the lifetime effects of some of these crushing hits. There is still an outstanding lawsuit with helmet manufacturer Riddell.
And, even with more precautions being taken, football is still a violent game. Players are still going to get hurt. That’s not going away. And neither is this issue.