NFL and concussions: $765M settlement step in right direction, ex-player says

(CBS News) The National Football League has agreed to pay $765 million to settle lawsuits related to concussions. The settlement affects thousands of former players who have brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's and dementia, related to head injuries on the field.

The total cost will be broken down like this: $675 million to compensate former players and families, $75 million for medical exams, $10 million for research and education, and all 18,000 retirees are eligible for compensation.

NFL, former football players to settle concussion lawsuits for $765 million, judge says

The players' awards are capped -- $5 million for players suffering from Alzheimer's disease, $4 million for deaths from chronic traumatic brain damage, and $3 million for players suffering from dementia.

The payments are to occur over 20 years.

The lawsuits were a "major black mark" on the NFL in recent years, CBS News special correspondent James Brown, anchor of "The NFL Today," said on "CBS This Morning." However, the move now eliminates that issue from the national spotlight with the season less than a week away. Brown added, "It also now has specificity to it as opposed to attorneys going into this not knowing what has to be paid out and clearly any time you talk litigation, you're talking that which is costly, time-consuming, and certainly is not a public relations good thing."

Read more about the NFL settlement at CBSSports.com

The NFL brings in $9.5 billion annually, Brown noted and said some are critical that the settlement is about a tenth of that amount. However, Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson told Brown it's at least a step in the right direction.

Brown said, "For those ex-players, who are living daily with debilitating diseases and the like, it is at least (movement on the issue). Eric Dickerson talks about how many people may not feel badly for him. But for a year-and-a-half after he stopped playing, he had to sleep in a chair because of neck issues. Couldn't lay in a bed and now he's dealing with some memory loss issues as well."

Going forward, Brown said the NFL will have to review its rulings on altering the game for player safety, as players have complained that new regulations about tackling threaten to take out their knees -- often a career-ending injury.

But, in terms of head injuries a player cannot use their head as a weapon anymore, Brown pointed out. "A running back who has a ball and he sees he's about to be tackled cannot lower his head and use the crown of his helmet as a spear to go into another player's sternum," he said. "These rules will be enforced vigorously and have substantial penalties associated with it as well."

Watch Brown's full analysis in the video above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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