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Patrick Hruby: ‘Those Suffering From Symptoms Get Nothing’

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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11: Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), speaks at a news conference March 11, 2013 New York City. Goodell and GE CEO Jeff Immelt introduce an initiative and research program to study concussions in an effort to improve the safety of professional football players, (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Roger Goodell (Credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody gave preliminary approval for a revised settlement regarding the concussion suits that were filed by retired players against the NFL.

Brody rejected the initial settlement proposal in January, saying that $765 million for neurological diseases was not sufficient to cover the roughly 20,000 retired players over a 65-year period. Instead of paying a maximum of $765 million, the NFL has agreed to fund all valid player claims for the entirety of the deal, which still needs final approval.

In other words, the NFL has uncapped the fund.

That makes Patrick Hruby nervous.

“Well, here’s the thing,” the Sports on Earth writer said on The MoJo Show. “First of all, if you are a former NFL player – or a current NFL player – just that word uncapped (makes you nervous). Go back and look at what happened during the quote-unquote uncapped year of the salary cap. Teams actually colluded to keep salaries down. That should (sound) an alarm bell. When (the NFL says) uncapped, they mean, ‘We found other ways to save money.’ And that is what this deal (is).”

Under the settlement, players would receive a maximum of $5 million for ALS, $4 million for CTE, $3.5 million for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and $1.5 to $3 million for dementia.

There’s just one problem: If you have not already died of CTE – or if you have not already been diagnosed with it – neither you nor your family will receive any money.

Hruby called this a “blindingly obvious” problem and said “no one’s talking about it.”

“Why are we all here?” he asked. “What’s the one disease that we are here for? Why is this a big story in the media?”

The answers to those questions are, in order, CTE, CTE and CTE.

“Guess what?” Hruby said. “If you are a retired player and you die and let’s say you had CTE and it caused your life to spiral downhill – it hurt you, it hurts your family, you get divorced, you can’t hold down a job, life (goes) crazy – all these things can happen with CTE. If you did not die as of preliminary approval, you get nothing. The award for CTE – for death with CTE – the cut-off date is the date of preliminary approval. So everybody who might develop this disease – who might even be suffering from symptoms of it now – (will get nothing).”

That’s a problem. A big one.

“Remember: This is a disease that takes time to progress,” Hruby said, “(and) you and your family are totally out of luck. Even if we develop tests, which may happen in the next three, five, 10 years to detect this disease in the living – not just through brain autopsies – you’re still out of luck.”

While the settlement includes payouts for other neuro-degenerative diseases, CTE – which has been dubbed “footballer’s dementia” – is the big kahuna being left out. Given how little we know about the disease, that’s alarming.

“We really don’t know what the prevalence of these diseases are going to be in the retired player population because we’ve never actually studied that,” Hruby said. “There have been a couple preliminary studies, and it does seem like the one that will be the most common (among retired players) is CTE.”

There would also be stipulations regarding payouts. A player’s age and the number of NFL seasons played would factor into the amount of compensation awarded. The older a player is and the less NFL time he accumulated, the less he would receive.

Brody will later decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement. She has scheduled a fairness hearing for Nov. 19.

 

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