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August 29th, 2013
05:41 PM ET

Peter King: Concussion lawsuit deal is 'a big win' for NFL

Thousands of former football players, and their families, have reached a settlement with the National Football League in a lawsuit that put concussions, and their impact on the brain, on trial.

The deal, which is still pending approval by a U.S. district judge, would provide $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses.

"This is such a big win for the National Football League," said Peter King, writer for Sports Illustrated and editor of the mmqb.com.

Including the attorneys fees, the settlement will cost every NFL team and owner about $30 million, said King, which is payable over a 20-year period. Owners will have to pay about $12 million over the first three years per team to fund the concussion fund settlement.

"They're going to have a long period of time to basically stretch out the payments that they're going to owe, and they're almost certainly going to be able to eliminate any future lawsuit from former players about head injuries," said King.

The NFL took in $9.5 billion in 2012.

Many of the players struck the deal because of medical realities. When people predicted the lawsuit could take up to ten years, former NFL fullback Kevin Turner, who has ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, spoke out.

"He said, 'Look, I don't have ten years. I'm probably not going to make it that long. I need money now. I need funding now,'" said King.

"The average player in that lawsuit might only get $100,000 to $200,000, but for the average player, that's going to help him pay the medical bills that he desperately needs that money for," said King.

The settlement also protects the NFL from having to acknowledge what it knew about the link between concussions and brain injuries.

"Not only does the NFL not have to acknowledge any culpability involved in the whole head trauma issue, in the concussion issue, but the NFL also doesn't have to go through what I believe would have been a very painful discovery process, where team doctors would have gotten on the stands, who maybe were doctors 15 years ago on the sidelines and got pressured by a head coach to send guys back into games," said King.

The early analysis is if the players had been "able to be patient and taken the money maybe six, eight, ten years down the road, they could have done a lot better in this process," said King.

"Nobody can litigate like the National Football League," said King. "They have a very long record of being able to stretch cases out."

One good thing about the settlement, says King, is that any of the former 18,000-19,000 NFL players currently alive "can undergo baseline testing at no cost of their brain. And if they have abnormal brain activity in in any way they will be able to appeal to the people who are going to run this fund to be able to get some money out of this for treatment for their head injury."

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