Leigh Steinberg: NFL Can Finally Open The Door On This Problem - FOX 35 News Orlando

Leigh Steinberg: The NFL Can Finally Open The Door On This Problem

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"Dementia...premature senility...higher rates of depression...if that's what's at the end of playing a game like this, what mom's gonna tell her kid go ahead and play?"

That's former NFL agent Leigh Steinberg talking to Steve and Maria about concussions and the league's 765 million dollar settlement to settle a lawsuit brought by players and their families over the issue.

"It was clear this was never going to court because the NFL had studies that showed the damage the concussion causes the player short and long term...they didn't tell the players that would have been a horrific public relations disaster...but the good news about it is the NFL has finally acknowledged that concussions cause damage...and now we can open the door to finally attack this problem."

Steinberg has spent years trying to educate the league about the fallout from not just the game...but also the need for prevention on the field.

"This game is inherently unsafe...and we need to be in the business of helmetry, drugs that can protect the brain, post care, and standards that keep players out of play once they've had a concussion."

He also explained how many football fans don't clearly understand the extent of head injuries.

"A concussion is not being knocked out, it's a blow to the head or body that occasions a change in brain function...the basic play when a lineman hits a lineman to start every game produces a low level concussive event...that means that a little bit of brain damage happens every time people collide on the field."

Leigh says it's not just the high paid athletes who need to be protected...parents with kids involved in high school sports should also be aware of the dangers.

"Every sport that has collision has these injuries...soccer...field hockey...it's every sport...and the adolescent brains is at the greatest level of risk so that you have to be most careful with teens..."

 

(FOX 11 / NFL / AP) The NFL has reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.

A federal judge announced the agreement Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation. It came just days before the start of the 2013 season.

More than 4,500 former athletes -- some suffering from dementia, depression or Alzheimer's that they blamed on blows to the head -- had sued the league, accusing it of concealing the dangers of concussions and rushing injured players back onto the field while glorifying and profiting from the kind of bone-jarring hits that make for spectacular highlight-reel footage.

The NFL long has denied any wrongdoing and insisted that safety always has been a top priority. But the NFL said Thursday that Commissioner Roger Goodell told pro football's lawyers to "do the right thing for the game and the men who played it."

The plaintiffs included Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.

Under the settlement, individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer's disease; $4 million for those diagnosed after their deaths with a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy; and $3 million for players with dementia, said lead plaintiffs' lawyer Christopher Seeger.

Any of the approximately 18,000 former NFL players would be eligible.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed agreement and will consider approving it at a later date.

The settlement most likely means the NFL won't have to disclose internal files about what it knew, and when, about concussion-linked brain problems. Lawyers had been eager to learn, for instance, about the workings of the league's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a rheumatologist.

In recent years, a string of former NFL players and other concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Those ex-players included Seau and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling, who filed the first lawsuit in Philadelphia in August 2011 but later committed suicide.

About one-third of the league's 12,000 former players eventually joined the litigation. They include a few hundred "gap" players, who played during years when there was no labor contract in place, and were therefore considered likely to win the right to sue.

Download the complete press release here (PDF).

Read the text of Brody's order that outlines the proposed settlement here.

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