The court-appointed mediator who brokered a proposed $765 million deal between the NFL and 4,500 former players characterized it as a "win-win." So did the league and the players' lead attorney.
But not everyone with skin in the game was convinced. At least one player suggested it was hush money well spent.
"I'm used to the NFL taking a hard-line approach as they have throughout the years with strikes and everything else," said former Pro Bowl lineman Lomas Brown, a plaintiff in the concussion-related lawsuits. "I'm curious how they came up with the figure and I've got a lot of questions, but I am happy that it's done."
Yet Brown couldn't help adding, "Any time the NFL acknowledges they are ready to settle something, it shows they knew they had some sort of negligence."
The nature of compromise is such that neither side gets everything they want. And the benefits proposed for former players are both considerable and desperately needed.
It won't restore lives already lost or ruined, nor heal broken minds and spirits — the toll the game extracted from some has been terrible and irreversible. But it would provide help right away to generations of past players still suffering the effects of concussion-related injuries. It would also replace the uncertain outcome and cost of litigation with a step-by-step process overseen by independent doctors to assess the extent of those injuries and then cover the medical bills.
There's no way to minimize how important that is to those near the breaking point or beyond, and the families struggling to look after them.
"I am able to live my life the same way I was, but now — chances are I am 44 now, I won't make it to 50 or 60 — I have money now to put back for my children to go to college and for a little something to be there financially," said former NFL running back Kevin Turner, who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and was also a party to the lawsuit.
"It will give them the peace of mind to have the best quality of life they can have," Turner added, referring to other former players. "No longer have to make decisions regarding their health based on what they can afford, but based on what is the best treatment for them."
And as mediator Layn Phillips, a retired judge appointed by the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, noted in a statement released after the proposed deal was announced, "The alternative was for the two sides to spend the next 10 years and millions of dollars on litigation, which would have been great for lawyers, expert witnesses, trial consultants and others. But it would not do much for retired players and their families who are in need."
Yet it was Phillips' next sentence that may ultimately decide how good a deal this turns out to be: "This resolution allows the sides to join together, do something constructive, and build a better game for the future."
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