The Football Gods' Super Bowl

The rational move for the NFL would be to address the judge's move immediately by increasing the offer to the former players but not increasing the offer to their attorneys. Perhaps the NFL should offer twice as much, $1.5 billion, with all additional funds being given to former players.

From the league's standpoint, it is essential that the chance to settle this mess not be lost. The NFL can buy its way out of any problem, but this works only if the other party agrees. With the settlement now perceived as the lawyers having shafted their own clients, the willingness of the former players to make a deal may not last. Increasing the money is the league's best chance of getting the former players to stay on board.

Here's the rub. With any class-action lawsuit, "actual class members" must decide whether to opt in (take the current offer while waiving future claims) or opt out (get nothing while reserving the right to file their own lawsuits). For those former players who are already aging, or already showing signs of neurological complications, it makes sense to opt in and take the best offer right now. Former players in these situations need help fast, and may not live long enough to receive a larger settlement that other lawsuits might produce in the future.

But for any former player who doesn't show neurological symptoms or who is less than, say, 65 years of age, opting out may be the way to go. The proposed settlement's offer to players without current neurological conditions is relatively modest -- waiver of future claims in exchange for about $25,000 to $50,000 each. The incentive to opt in for the relatively modest amount is that because with current technology it's nearly impossible to prove that harm to the brain was caused by NFL contact, you might as well take a relatively small payment and move on.

That's with current medical technology! Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is little-understood and has been studied only a short time. Think about a former NFL player who is, say, 45 years old and in decent health. He might have decades of life ahead. Despite the media misconception that former NFL players die young, they as a group live longer than men of the same age. In the next decade or two, neurological diagnoses may advance significantly. It may become possible to link the onset of CTE to specific life events. If that happens, then a former player would have a much stronger legal claim against in the NFL.

The league needs former players to waive liability now, before some development in medical knowledge strengthens the former players' hand. The way for the league to achieve this is to put a lot more money in the pot.

The Road to the Swamps: This year's Super Bowl will be played in New Jersey, but all of the media talk will be of New York. So TMQ is keeping the focus on Jersey.

Did you know that the Garden State is named after the largest Channel Island? Today the island of Jersey is sort-of a miniature country, a self-governing dependency of the British crown. Because Jersey remained loyal during the English Civil War, James II gave the land that is now New Jersey to two aristocratic supporters. The Lenape were not consulted. If the Washington R*dsk*ns ever move to New Jersey, they would become the Washington Lenape.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...