NEW YORK - The National Football League agreed Wednesday to remove a $675 million cap on concussion damages from a settlement deal reached with retired players.
The revised agreement, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, addressed the concerns of US Disrict Judge Anita Brody, who denied approval of the deal in January over concerns the money could run out before all player needs were covered.
Some criticized the NFL for getting off easily with regard to damages suffered by players in a sport which brings the league $9 billion in annual revenues.
Brody must still approved the revised deal, which also removes a stipulation that kept those accepting concussion damage awards from the league from suing such groups as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The new deal, announced on the NFL's website, ensures funds will be available to any retired player who develops a qualifying neurocognitive condition oncde the fund is established.
Benefits to retired NFL players and their families include comprehensive medical exams and follow-up benefits, and an injury compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's diseases.
"This agreement will give retired players and their families immediate help if they suffer from a qualifying neurocognitive illness, and provide peace of mind to those who fear they may develop a condition in the future," said co-lead plaintiffs' counsel Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss.
"This settlement guarantees that these benefits will be there if needed and does so without years of litigation that may have left many retired players without any recourse."
The NFL will spent $10 million for education on concussion prevention classes and administration of the settlement terms over the expected 65-year term of the deal.
"Today's agreement reaffirms the NFL's commitment to provide help to those retired players and their families who are in need, and to do so without the delay, expense and emotional cost associated with protracted litigation," NFL senior vice president Anastasia Danias said.
More than 4,500 players have filed a lawsuit against the NFL, some accusing the league of criminal wrongdoing in its handling of concussions.
The revised deal does not address whether or not league officials kept information from players regarding head injuries.
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