I caught this from Paul D. Anderson, apparently Darren Rovell had it as well; the NFL and the NFLPA finally agreed on neurocognitive benefits for NFL players as part of the 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Obviously this was long overdue, but it is now a done deal. You can read the nuts and bolts on Anderson’s blog HERE.
The gist of the agreement is that players who are fully vested and played one season after 1994 can get compensation for documented neurocognitive disabilities, something that has been missing from coverage since the beginning of time. But, and its a HUGE BUT, there is a caveat (from Anderson’s blog);
In order to receive the benefits, the player must sign a release promising not to sue the NFL. In other words, if a player accepts the benefits he cannot join the NFL concussion lawsuits. Stated differently, if a player is currently a plaintiff in the concussion lawsuits, in order to receive the benefits, he will likely have to dismiss his lawsuit. The release will not waive any future workers’ compensation claim he may have against a team.
The plaintiffs in the concussion lawsuits, that played after 1994, have a decision to make: should I accept the benefits under this plan, or should I continue to purse my claim against the NFL and hope that it will be successful?
Of course, the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the concussion lawsuits are likely advising their clients not to pursue these benefits (perhaps out of self-interest).
But, the reality is, there is absolutely no guarantee the concussion lawsuits will be successful. If a player is suffering from a neuro-cognitive disorder, then he shouldn’t wait around for the lawsuit to run its course. It will likely take years for the lawsuits to be resolved; during that time several players may have already missed their opportunity to file a claim because they reached the age of 55.
Decisions, decisions… And Paul later goes on to provide some good advice regarding a thought process, which I wholeheartedly agree on – if an NFL player is suffering from problems, really they should get the help that is provided and need;
A player needs to make an informed decision and most importantly consider his health and financial situation. A player likely will not have to dismiss his lawsuit until he qualifies for the benefits, at which time, he can weigh his decision: take the benefits or proceed against the NFL in my concussion lawsuit.
Again, I applaud the NFL and the NFLPA. I am hopefully optimistic that this is a step in the right direction to ensuring players are able to have a quality life after retirement. However, if history is any indicator, the Disability Board may be quick to deny claims – but I hope that will not be the case.
Another, perhaps overlooked part of the agreement is that if a player is receiving or wants to receive line of duty benefits (those are orthopedic settlements) you cannot have both. So, it is one or the other, your body or brain. In which I am in full agreement with Paul here, this makes absolute no sense. Players can have both, make that most likely will have both ailments upon retirement. Now the league – and really the NFLPA by agreeing to it – has said that you have to pick one.
At the end of the LINK, Paul has posted the exact language for the waiver to sue the NFL, you can check it out there.