Football is known as one of America’s favorite pastimes, but even with the fun and competitive spirit, the sport can be dangerous. Many major football players endure repeated trauma to the head, which can result in permanent brain damage. When a head impact occurs, nerves near the area of impact are damaged, and this can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Chronic traumatic encephalopathy has a range of symptoms, from Lou Gherig’s disease and dementia, to depression and other psychological changes in the brain. The National Football League (NFL) recently settled a lawsuit with 4,500 former players due to head injuries they endured from the sport and, according to NBC, the settlement “reflects a growing body of research that shows that repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.”
The settlement will be used to diagnose and compensate the retired players who have developed conditions due to collisions endured while playing football. The athletes first filed the case in 2011, and alleged that the NFL concealed information on the long-term dangers of concussions and repeated play after sustaining these injuries, according to the Associated Press. Many of the players who sued have developed dementia or suffer from depression or Alzheimer’s.
According to the Associated Press, the $765 million settlement covers approximately 18,000 former NFL players. Approximately $75 million will be set aside for medical examinations and $10 million will be set aside for research. Alzheimer’s disease patients will receive up to $5 million each, and dementia patients will receive up to $3 million each. Additionally, families of those who were diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy will receive a maximum of $4 million.
By settling the lawsuit, the NFL admits to no wrongdoing. In a statement, the NFL executive vice president said “this agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players.” According to the agreement, all former NFL players are eligible for compensation, and the amount of compensation is dependent on their condition and number of years they spent playing pro football. The court will consider whether or not to approve the proposed settlement at a later date.