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  • Human Rights Research Center

Former NFL Players Navigate the Waiting Game and Setbacks in the NFL Concussion Settlement

January 31, 2024

From left, former NFL player Kevin Turner; Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former NFL player Ray Easterling; and ex-NFL player Dorsey Levens after a 2014 hearing in Philadelphia. [Image Credit: Matt Rourke | AP]

Cited article by the Washington Post

HRRC sheds light on challenges faced by former players seeking compensation for brain-related injuries under the settlement, exposing systemic issues and raising concerns about the overall integrity of the NFL program.

News Brief

The NFL concussion settlement, hailed as a landmark deal promising payouts for former players suffering from dementia and related brain diseases, has been plagued by strict guidelines, aggressive reviews, and a struggling network of doctors, leading to denials for hundreds of players diagnosed with dementia. Despite the NFL having paid out nearly $1.2 billion to over 1,600 former players and their families, the settlement has faced criticism for failing to deliver money and medical care to those suffering from dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The settlement's definition of dementia is more stringent than the standard definition in American medicine, leading to numerous denials based on test scores that do not meet the settlement's criteria. Additionally, administrative breakdowns in the network of settlement doctors have resulted in significant delays for former players seeking medical evaluations and financial support.

At least 14 players who failed to qualify for settlement benefits due to these denials have died, only for CTE to be confirmed post-mortem. Former players wait over 15 months on average to see settlement doctors and receive the necessary paperwork, leading to instances where players died before their claims were processed. The investigation indicates that the collective value of denied dementia claims could exceed $700 million, raising questions about the fairness and efficacy of the NFL concussion settlement.


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