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NFL Reaches $765 Million Settlement in Concussion Lawsuits

The professional football league was accused of concealing the risks of head injuries.

Lions Saints NFL Game Dec 4 - H 2011
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A judge overseeing a mediation in a consolidated multidistrict lawsuit involving some 4,500 National Football League ex-players has announced that a $765 million settlement has been reached. The judge has hailed it as "historic."

The lawsuit from such players as Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and the late Reggie White contended that the league's response to an epidemic of brain injuries has been "a campaign of deceit and deception, actively concealing the risks players faced from repetitive impacts." 

The settlement comes after two months of negotiation between the parties and includes no admission of liability from the NFL. The money would go to fund medical exams, research and concussion-related compensation. It comes on the heels of an expected decision by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody on whether the lawsuit should continue and in what fashion. The proposed settlement will need to be submitted to Judge Brody for approval.

The settlement also comes just a week before the NFL regular season begins, and the league's television partners attempt to score big on the billions of dollars that they have paid for television rights.

"This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football," said former U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator in the process. "Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed. I am deeply grateful to Judge Brody for appointing me as mediator and offering me the opportunity to work on such an important and interesting matter."

A fund of $675 million will go to compensate former players who have suffered cognitive injuries. As much as $75 million will go to medical exams. The rest of the money will go to research and class notices. Money for legal fees will be paid on top of the $765 million. As for the timing, if approved, the NFL would be paying 50 percent of the settlement amount over three years, and the balance over the following 17.

NFL executive vp Jeffrey Pash said the agreement would be for the benefit of the ex-players and would continue to make the game safer. "We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation," he said. "This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we've made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players."

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner