For the past few years, the National Football League (NFL) has been hounded by questions over player safety. On the forefront of the player safety movement was a class action lawsuit brought on account of 4,500 former players or their estates against the NFL, claiming the league did not perform due diligence in preventing head injuries.
Today, the major weapon in the fight against the NFL has been settled.
The league has agreed to a settlement to put the class action suit to rest, agreeing to pay $765 million for injury settlements and medical benefits for retired players. In addition, the NFL agreed to fund medical and safety research as well as pay all litigation expenses.
The agreement comes after two months of negotiations under the eye of court-appointed mediator Judge Layn Phillips. “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,” Judge Phillips said in a statement released Thursday morning by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Center (PDF).
The settlement will now go to United States District Judge Anita B. Brody for approval. She is expected to hear any appeals and approve the settlement within the next few weeks.
Most familiar with the case call the settlement a victory for the league. Each of the league’s 32 franchises will be forced to pay roughly $30 million towards the settlement. By comparison, the NFL salary cap for the 2013 season sits at $123 million. The NFL as a whole makes $9-10 billion per season.
As part of the pre-trial settlement, the NFL makes no admission of any wrongdoing. The league will pay half of the settlement over the next three years, then the other half of the settlement in the following 17 years.