Roger Goodell defends settlement
Players Wanted $2 Billion From NFL
NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday called the league's $765 million settlement with former players the "best" outcome for both parties.
Under the terms of the tentative settlement, which was announced last week, the NFL agreed to compensate retired players for concussion-related brain injuries, pay for medical exams and underwrite concussion-related research.
"We were able to find a common ground to be able to get the relief to the players and their families now rather than spending years litigating when those benefits wouldn't go to the players," Goodell said Wednesday morning at an event in New York City to promote Super Bowl XLIII. "So we're very supportive of it and we think it's the right thing to move forward and to try to do what we can to help our players and their families."
Some have been critical of the NFL, claiming $765 million is a small portion of the money that the league generates annually.
Goodell disagrees with that theory.
"People start with making an assumption ... first off, that we make $10 billion," Goodell said. "That's $10 billion in revenue. And there's a difference between making (money) and revenue.
"So this is a significant amount of money (and) the plaintiffs also believed it was an appropriate amount. The mediator felt it was an appropriate amount. It's a tremendous amount of money that we think is going to go to the right purpose, which is helping players and their families. So $765 million is a lot of money."
According to the settlement, $675 million of the $765 million would be used to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury, including the families of players who committed suicide after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Other money will be used for baseline medical exams, research and education.
The settlement was agreed upon after months of court-ordered mediation.
"I think it's best for the game going forward," Goodell said. "And I think it's best for the players and that's what's important."
The NFL has 20 years to pay the full amount of the settlement, but half of the total must be paid within the first three years and the rest over the next 17 years. A source told ESPN that the compensation program is designed to last for up to 60 years, and that if a retired player develops a severe neurological illness in the future, he will be eligible to apply for compensation. Legal fees are not included in this agreement.
Goodell, who was on hand to help deliver the Vince Lombardi trophy to the "Huddle Shuttle" -- a vehicle that will tour the tri-state area with the trophy and other elements of the Super Bowl -- said the NFL remains committed to the safety of the game on all levels.
"In the last few weeks, I've been working with youth football leagues, with family members and others talking about 'heads up' football and how we can make the game safer and teach the right techniques," Goodell said. "So our commitment is very strong and will continue, and in fact it will only get stronger."
Regarding Super Bowl XLIII, the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather city, Goodell said the league is "prepared for every alternative" that inclement weather could present on game day.
"I think part of the decision that the clubs made is that we know that it's cold in New York in February and we know that there is the potential for snow and other types of weather," he said. "We're prepared for that and they made that decision knowing that.
"I think this is going to be a great thing for the league and for the people of this region."
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
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