Stop Being So Grim On the NFL’s Concussion Settlement

Stop me if you’ve heard me say this before, or something very close to it: Mike Wise is such a negative Nancy. His column today, which calls the $765 million settlement in the concussion suit between the NFL and 4,500 former players a loss for e future of the game, takes the complete opposite view of the situation as the one this sports blogger has.

He accuses the attorneys for the former players and the players themselves of not thinking about the future of the game (which is already lost, in his opinion) and being more concerned with their own needs and getting the instant gratification—getting paid—rather than let the thing play out and be caught up in the court system for years. “The concussion litigants didn’t have that kind of staying power, perseverance. They lacked the fortitude they used to play with,” he wrote. If they had? A jury would have awarded them millions and millions more, in Wise’s opinion.

True, their payday could’ve been much greater had they decided to dig their heels in and fight the league on this, but I couldn’t disagree more with his sentiments on their not thinking about the future of the game. Had the former players waged the war and decided to not settle, the very game that gave (some of them) them fame and fortune and (all of them) a paycheck could have possibly ceased to exist. Say it did go away, football that is. Could we really sit here and say that it would have been worth it that the former players and league didn’t reach an agreement? Players would’ve been safer, I guess, because they’d be sitting on their asses at home on Sundays instead of marching out on the gridiron.

Despite the criticism the NFL and Roger Goodell get for all of the ridiculous new rules they make up that attempt to remove a good portion of the violence from the game, at least they’re showing that they are willing to take some steps to try and curb the head injuries. The moves they’re making now don’t necessarily help the players that have come and gone and are suffering through retirement, but this settlement is a way to make good for that (arguably not good enough, but hey it’s something).

Further, as Wise notes, a portion of the NFL’s payment is designated to education on and research for concussions. Classified as “Baseline Medical Examinations” and “Research and Education Fund,” they are described as follows in the settlement document:

Baseline Medical Examinations: Eligible retired players may receive a Baseline Medical Assessment, the results of which will be used to establish a qualifying diagnosis, either now or at a point in the future. The baseline examination program will operate for a period of 10 years. After 10 years, any funds allocated for this program that have not been spent will be added to the fund for payment of monetary awards. [cost for this will be capped at $75 million]

Research and Education Fund: The NFL will allocate $10 million toward medical, safety, and injury-prevention research, and toward educating retired players on NFL benefits programs. A portion of this fund will be used to support joint efforts by the NFL and retired NFL players to promote education and safety initiatives in youth football.

So for this Post columnist to say that this settlement is bad for football is absolute garbage. Could it have been better? Possibly. But putting the future of the game of football on the line for a few extra million bucks just doesn’t seem worth it.

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