NFL brain injury compensation scheme criticized

Friday October 10, 2014

Most followers of sports, whether in New Haven, Connecticut, or elsewhere, may know that athletes are highly vulnerable to a range of injuries. While most of these involve physical damage to the limbs or torso, it is also possible that a player suffer a concussion from an impact on the head during the course of a game. This is as likely to happen in a game of football as any other sport, with the National Football League taking heed of the issue.

However, a scheme recently proposed by the NFL, which aims to compensate players’ for suffering concussion on-field, has been criticized as not taking full cognizance of the effects of concussion. Specifically, while the scheme offers payouts for those suffering from memory impairment and some forms of neuromuscular disease, it does nothing for players who suffer from various other effects of traumatic brain injury.

The scheme comes in the wake of revelations that crippling brain disorders could affect as many as 6,000 former NFL players, and offers a net sum possibly in excess of $675 million towards claims that may take as much as 65 years to settle. However, this amount is mostly earmarked for ex-footballers suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease whose age does not exceed 45. Also, compensation could vary based on the number of playing years as well as the actual age of players.

Criticism of the plan centers on the fact that it seems to ignore the probability of players suffering debilitating injuries in their early years. For the over 20,000 one-time NFL players, however, the scheme is long overdue and thereby significant. These players are likely to receive as much as $5 million in compensation, depending on their condition, unless they choose to opt out of the program.

Source: Connecticut Post, “Brain injury group: Concussion award scheme flawed,” Maryclaire Dale, Sept. 30, 2014

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