Column: Once again, things end up rosy for NFL

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 7, 2014 at 5:32 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014

Playoff ratings are soaring, the messy concussion lawsuit is all but over, and the only thing the NFL really has to worry about now is keeping a bunch of corporate bigwigs warm at the Super Bowl.

Actually, there isn't much worry. The NFL will escape again because, well, it is the NFL and things always end up rosy.

A suit over brain damage that once threatened the very future of the league? About to vanish, assuming a judge who pushed for the $765 million settlement signs off as expected on the final terms.

Cold weather at the Super Bowl? Hey, if fans in Green Bay can party in subzero wind chills, nothing Mother Nature throws at the Meadowlands next month will be much worse.

If there ever was a bulletproof sport in America it's football. And if there was ever a bulletproof sports league in the country, it's the NFL.

That was evident over the weekend when millions of fans across the country tuned in from the warmth of their living rooms as the NFL playoffs kicked off with a thrilling comeback by the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. By the time a last second field goal won it on Sunday for San Francisco in frigid Green Bay, the wild-card weekend was the most-watched ever with an average of 34.7 million viewers.

And it came into more focus Tuesday when attorneys for former players claiming brain damage from concussions could barely contain their delight over a motion for preliminary approval in federal court that could pay up to $5 million apiece for those who are the worst off.

With good reason. In addition to the $765 million award to former players, attorneys for the plaintiffs will likely end up sharing a whopping $112 million for a case that was still years away from being litigated in court.

"We believe this agreement of $112 million is well within realm of fair," said co-lead attorney Christopher Seeger.

The attorneys aren't the only ones happy over the settlement. NFL owners have to be ecstatic over getting rid of a suit that could have threatened the league for years. For the price of little more than a franchise player a team, the NFL protected both its reputation and the $9 billion a year the league takes in — a figure that will only continue to rise with ever increasing television rights fees.

That doesn't mean the concussion debate is over. Not when players can still opt out and sue on their own — something Seeger doesn't see many doing — and not when three Chiefs were knocked out of their playoff game against the Colts with hits to the head. But the biggest challenge to the league has been dodged, at least for now, and at relatively little cost to each team.

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