Judge: NFL, Players to Settle Concussion Lawsuits

10:32 AM, Aug 30, 2013   |    comments
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MARYCLAIRE DALE
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal judge says the NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to settle concussion-related lawsuits for $765 million.

The global settlement would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research.

The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.

The lawsuits accuse the league of hiding known risks of concussions for decades to return players to games and protect its image. The NFL has denied any wrongdoing.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed settlement Thursday. She still needs to approve the deal, which comes after months of court-ordered mediation.

Former Bill Harry Jacobs is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Our Scott Brown sat down with him last year.

"Do you think the problems you're suffering from are directly related to your time playing football?" asked Brown.

"No doubts in my mind. I never had car accidents, but I played 22 years of football," said Jacobs.

"And 11 in the NFL?" asked Brown.

"Yeah," said Jacobs.

"That's a long career," commented Brown.

"Yeah, it was exciting though, I didn't know any of this stuff," said Jacobs.

In 2004, Justin Strzelczyk, a West Seneca native and former linemen for the Pittsburgh Steelers, died in a bizarre crash while driving the wrong way on the Thruway. Following his death, Strzelczyk's mother agreed to have his brain studied and a doctor found he had CTE.

"The last few years that he was short tempered with his kids, he was kind of vacuous, like not there all the time," she said.

The lawsuit accuses the N-F-L of intentionally hiding the risks of concussions to return injured players to the field and protect the league's image.

The proposed deal means the league will not admit liability, and about 18-thousand former players will be eligible to file compensation claims.

"I was never pressured to play after a concussion. I did have a concussion. It was documented, you know, it was really up to the player to decide when they came back," said former Bill Kurt Schulz.

While former Bill Kurt Schulz only experienced that one concussion, and is not part of the lawsuit, some of his former teammates are.

He says making changes to the game to make it safer, might be challenging.

"I think that players are getting faster, they're getting stronger as we evolve, but if they could do something on the technology side, maybe that would be beneficial for the game to help those players, especially I think the defensive linemen and the offensive linemen," he says. 


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