Former football greats reach settlement on brain injury issue

Fans the NFL in Alabama may have heard about football legend Tony Dorsett and 4,500 other former players reaching a settlement in their class-action lawsuit against the league. The 59-year-old Dallas Cowboys star said he was viewing with guarded optimism the agreement on health care for the brain injuries known as a concussion. He told a newspaper that he was glad to see the plaintiffs and league get something done but was concerned that the settlement arrangement might not be enough for former players.

Dorsett told the newspaper that he couldn't remember names or directions and had to ask his wife for help. He added that he broke down sometimes because he found himself being short-tempered with the people he loves. These are well-known symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is caused by head trauma and is linked to dementia, depression and other ailments. The former Cowboy said that he had been fighting anger issues and depression for years. He expressed disappointment with the settlement because it did not address what he considered an extremely important provision.

The provision Dorsett and others had hoped for was money to support the players who have suffered deterioration due to their time in the game. He said that the owners make billions of dollars, and a settlement of $765 million was like throwing a pebble into the ocean. That amount translates to about $250,000 per player, which Dorsett thought was woefully inadequate for the decades many players would still be expected to live with their football-caused maladies.

Alabama is football country, but that can mean traumatic brain injury and long-term care costs for athletes. The justice system may be able to help arrange workplace compensation after a catastrophic personal injury such as a spinal cord injury.

Source: NY Daily News, "Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, former NY Giants DT Leonard Marshall diagnosed with CTE", Christian Red, November 08, 2013

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