- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The NFL reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players.
The agreement, announced Thursday, will compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research. New York Giants owner John Mara fielded questions from reporters before the preseason finale against the Patriots. Here's the full Q&A:
Your reaction to the settlement?
"I think it’s a good settlement, primarily because it will help get money to people who need it much faster than had we gone through a long litigation, with appeals and discovery and everything else. It could have gone on for eight or 10 years. This hopefully will get some money to some people who could use some help."
The $765 million number is a large amount.
"It’s a big number, to be sure, but I think it’s a fair settlement. I’m just pleased that we’re going to be able to help some people that are in need right now."
One of the principal terms of the settlement is that the agreement is not considered "an admission by the NFL of liability." Do you feel culpable?
"No, and I’m not going to get into that aspect of it. I just feel good about the fact that there are some former players out there who are not in good condition right now and we’re going to be able to help them. I heard a report today that it comes out to less than $200,000 per plaintiff, but that’s not the way to look at it because most of these plaintiffs are not going to be eligible. There’s going to have to be a showing of some cognitive impairment, and there are some players who are in that condition, and those are the guys who deserve the money. ... You have to make a showing, according to the way I read the judge’s order, a showing of some cognitive impairment, and that gets determined by independent doctors that both sides will agree on, and it’s overseen by the court."
Some players feel the number could have been bigger.
"You can always say that about any number, but if we had gone through the litigation process here, it would have taken years. I thought the league, we felt like we had some very strong defenses, so who knows how that would have come out. The only thing for certain is it would have delayed for many years the chances of any of those plaintiffs getting any money out of this, and some needed [the money] sooner rather than later. That to me is the best part of this."
Was there pressure on you and the league to not let this go to court because you don’t want a lot of former players going onto the stand?
"You always have that risk when you go into litigation. Fortunately there was a willingness on both sides to come to an agreement, and a judge that was pushing the sides to settle the case, and a mediator who was very effective in bringing the sides together. As a result, we have a deal that is very good for a lot of these players that can use some help."
It cost the owners a lot.
"It will, but I think it will be money well spent."