Friday, October 18, 2013

The NFL & Concussions: Adding Insult to Injury

According to a story in the New York Times former NFL players "found with a severe brain injury after they turned 45, or who played in the N.F.L. for five years or less, would probably receive smaller payouts" from the league's recent $765,000,000 settlement of a lawsuit brought by 4,500 retired players.

The problem of course is that encephalopathy is a gradual, neurodegenerative disease that, while there have been high profile cases of players exhibiting symptoms before age 45, may take years to manifest itself.

Further, the survivors of players who died before 2006 (e.g. Mike Webster, Terry Long and Andre Waters) would be ineligible to receive any payment.  What does that mean for those survivors?  According to the article, "the families of players who committed suicide [prior to 2006] and were found to have C.T.E. may receive up to $4 million."

Given the level of suffering that some players have suffered it seems small-minded, if not cruel, to exclude cases of football related encephalopathy, and the attended depressive issues, that have been confirmed by postmortem examinations simply because the victims died more than seven years ago.

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