The National Football League has agreed to a $765 million settlement deal with thousands of former players who sued the league, accusing it of hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from the sport's violence, according to court papers released on Thursday.
The league agreed to pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and a program of medical research as well as to cover some legal expenses, according to a filing in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
More than 4,500 players had accused the league of glorifying football's ferocity while concealing the risks of concussions and long-term brain damage as a result of repeated hits to the head.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in July had ordered both sides to meet with mediator Layn Phillips, a retired federal judge, in an effort to settle the dispute.
"This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football," Phillips said.
The settlement is still subject to the approval of Judge Brody as well as the retired players that brought it. When finalized it will be binding on all players who have retired from the league.
"The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future," said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots who served as lead plaintiff.
The league had said it disclosed the information it had regarding research into brain trauma. It had previously argued that the lawsuit was inappropriate because the issue of player safety is governed by the collective bargaining agreements negotiated between the league and the players' union.
The NFL admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
(By Scott Malone. Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Cynthia Osterman and Tim Dobbyn)