Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Aug 2013

NFL Settles Concussion Lawsuit for $765 Million

This should be a relatively ignored thread, I'm sure.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 29 Aug 2013

21 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2013, 9:53pm by Jerry


by fb29 :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:29pm

so just using the $765 million number, and the 4500 players number, I get $170k per player.

Most NFL players are out of the league by 30, and as big men I assume live to ~70, that's 40 years at a little over $4k per year.

All very rough math, but is $4k a year enough for treatment?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:54pm

If you assume that every player is equally injured/symptomatic, and lives the same amount of time, yes.

I suspect it's actually a sliding scale, with the more severely symptomatic given a larger allotment. Given the payout scheme, it tends to more reward the older retired players and those who've already died. I also suspect most players aren't injured/aren't symptomatic, so when you remove those guys, the average actual payout per injured player will go up.

by Drunkmonkey :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 9:02pm

ProFootballTalk is reporting that only former players that are showing signs of concussions will be getting money, so I bet that 4500 doesn't represent the actual number of players who will get money.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 10:22am

I read that and it wasn't clear how they were going to control the payout. Is it first-come, first-served until the money is exhausted? There will be some guys who start showing symptoms later on--either legitimately or to try and cash in. And treatments for something like early onset dementia can be astronomically expensive and go on for many years. Administering something like this would be a real challenge.

by greenphoenix1189 (not verified) :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:37pm

After lawyer fees there will be about $450MM; if placed in trust it could generate a safe $22MM/year from the overall fund, which would provide about 4,500/year for each player without touching the principal.

That probably won't happen, but it's an example of how that fund could work over the long term.

by Bobman :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:48pm

Good point, but don't forget admin fees! Who wouldn't like to handle that $450M corpus?!?! I'm on the board of a non-profit with an endowment in the $1.5M range and we very carefully shopped for a service/fee value. Just a 25 basis point fee is over a million annually. I've never come across a fee that low, but I've never dealt with numbers that big, either.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:49pm

"Legal fees are not included in this agreement. A district court will decide what compensation the plaintiffs can receive for those costs."


by Bobman :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 1:42pm

"This should be a relatively ignored thread, I'm sure."

Awesome comment, Rivers--I assumed when I logged on there'd be thousands already from our mildly-opinionated and well-read brethren.

I suspect that in general, the FO community will be okay with this as it removed a giant cloud of uncertainty from the sport we love, but my first estimate echoes #1 above--seems kind of cheap for the owners.

I'll go one step farther: from an owner's perspective, the average payout is $24M, to protect your $1B enterprise and make this headache go away. I'd be pretty relieved to make a 3% payment, especially if there's some insurance coverage for it, to save my billion dollar baby from what some doomsayers said could be the end of the game itself.

I don't think $170k is nearly enough to make any real differences for most players/families, but hopefully it sets things up going forward to be much more protective of players' brains....

by akn :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 5:55pm

A giant financial cloud has been lifted, but the social/medical cloud still looms. If parents choose to prevent their kids from playing football, the pool of NFL talent will dry up significantly. This is obviously balanced by the financial incentive to play regardless, but I'm not sure what things will look like 20 years from now.

by jebmak :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 10:06pm

Don't worry, people will continue to be the sickening scum they they were in Friday Night Lights.

by Will Allen :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 9:38pm

That's some pretty good lawyerin' on behalf of the 32 plutocrats.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 2:13pm

So did anyone else read the article? Here is what the terms we know so far are:

"According to the settlement, $675 million of the $765 million would be used to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury. Other money will be used for baseline medical exams, the cost of which will be capped at $75 million. The NFL will also fund research and education at a cost of $10 million.

Individual awards would be capped at $5 million for men with Alzheimer's disease; $4 million for those diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after their deaths; and $3 million for players with dementia.

The settlement will include all players, their authorized representatives or family members if a player is deceased, who have retired as of the date on which the court gives preliminary approval of the settlement.

The NFL has 20 years to pay the full amount of the settlement, but half of the total must be paid within the first three years and the rest over the next 17 years."

Only players with cognitive injuries get access to the settlement pool. Part of it will be delayed over a long period too which will allow the pool of money to sustain itself for longer.

by akn :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 5:50pm

$675 million / 20 years / 32 teams / 10 home games / ~70,000 seats = ~$1.50/ticket.

A pittance for the NFL to pay.

by Brad M (not verified) :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 2:28pm

"Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it,"

hahah, yeah I'm sure they did.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 7:59pm

Good Lord, I just got blindsided by a flock of flying pigs (nearly knocked me off my feet!) who said that not only are the NFL owners committed to helping past players, they're also going to give the rest of their earning to charities!

Dragons and Unicorns and Moonbeams for everyone!

by ChicagoRaider :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 2:36pm

This is not the end. The article indicates that there is a pool of about 20,000 players of which this is less than a quarter. There are apparently "gap" players who have better ability to sue the NFL individually.

I like that the compensation is directed to those that have the most serious effects. I am sure that all of the former players that played for a long time have injuries, but the mental ones have to be especially anguishing for them and their families.

by fb29 :: Thu, 08/29/2013 - 6:50pm
by SuperGrover :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 1:07am

And in college football, Jordan Matthews missed one play after vomiting three times following a vicious whiplash situation. The staff gave no discernible signs of a concussion test. ESPN, after having Matt Millen say vomiting is a clear sign of concussion, immediately ignored the issue once Matthews made a catch for a first down on 4th and 18. Shameful by all involved really.

I tweeted at Jeff Lockridge of the Tennessean to see if he might ask the staff why they put him back in. I doubt we'll see much from it.

by PaddyPat :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 2:18am

My sense is that as more research surfaces, there will be more and more grounds for suit and for higher dollar amounts. Those who agreed to this deal, it seems to me, sold low. I wonder how the issue will pan out for players moving forward. It's not like the risk has gone away.

by Jerry :: Sun, 09/01/2013 - 9:53pm

Unfortunately, many ex-players can't wait years for a trial. Even if they think they'd prevail, it's not certain, and the damage and its related expenses won't be going away.

by Dean :: Fri, 08/30/2013 - 1:18pm

Anybody who complained about being taken out of the game after suffering a concussion, or said they'd rather be hit in the head than in the knee should be inelligible to receive any renumeration.