The film Concussion is slated to hit U.S. theaters this Christmas, bringing the topic of head injuries suffered by National Football League players to the forefront of the national consciousness once again. The film stars Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who was among the first to publish findings on the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, and is reported to paint the NFL in a negative light.
The NFL remains the most popular professional sports league in the country and is estimated to earn annual revenues of about $9.5 billion. But over the past several years, the league has faced scrutiny for the way it has dealt with head injuries to its players, and 2015 in particular has brought the issue to light. The release of Concussion is just the latest in a long line of studies, media reports and lawsuits that center on the NFL and the brain injuries that many of its former players have suffered.
In April, U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody approved a settlement of at least $900 million to resolve concussion lawsuits between the NFL and thousands of former players over the next 65 years. The settlement came about four years after the first of more than 200 suits were filed by 5,000-plus retired NFL players. The settlement figure includes payment of monetary awards to retirees diagnosed with certain neurological conditions as well as funding for a program to monitor, diagnose and counsel ex-players.
While the settlement only applies to NFL players who retired by July 7, 2014, the compensation it provides to victims is substantial. Based on age of diagnosis, years played in the NFL and other factors, there are awards of up to $5 million for a diagnosis of ALS, up to $4 million for diagnosis after death of CTE and up to $3.5 million for diagnoses of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The settlement also included payments of up to $3 million for neurocognitive impairment such as “moderate dementia” and up to $1.5 million for conditions such as “early dementia.”
To learn more about the settlement, the types of brain injuries most commonly found in ex-NFL players and more, view Sheff Law’s NFL Concussion Injury Lawsuits: Frequently Asked Questions page.