Pundits: NFL Concussion Deal Offers Neither Clarity Nor Closure

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September 5, 2013 Thursday
NEWS; Pg. 8A
462 words
Deal offers neither clarity nor closure

Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times: "You would have thought there would be both clarity and closure after the NFL settled its brain-trauma case (last week) with 4,500 retired players for $765 million. But there is neither. Oh, the payouts will certainly help ex-players in dire need; that is, the ones who can't remember the months of the year or their jersey numbers or children's names, and the ones who are dying from the horrors of Lou Gehrig's disease, and the ones who are destitute from game-related medical bills. But does the payout fix the essential problem with tackle football -- the head being in the middle of the colliding shoulders -- or the culpability of those who profit wildly from other men's physical and mental undoing? No."

Susan Milligan, U.S. News & World Report: "The NFL says it wants to make the game safer, and to learn what dangers the game can do to players' health. But the $10 million in the settlement assigned to research and education is a pittance. ... Football's a great game, but it can't survive if it's not made safer for the players. The hits the athletes are taking on the field are brutal. The hit they took with the paltry settlement and lack of responsibility accepted by the NFL is worse."

Jason La Canfora, CBS Sports: "Certainly, the money paid out here and the creation of a $10 million education and research fund can't hurt further discoveries about this issue, but at the NFL level, with the kinds of revenue streams and money flowing in, this is a relative hiccup. The money it saves the league and the possible revelations it prevents, and what it does to help secure the future of football as America's dominant sporting obsession, is worth so much more."

Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN.com: "Football remains in a legal quicksand that has the potential to drag the sport under. The big concern has never been the NFL, which has only a small number of current and retired players, and can buy its way out of any difficulty. ... If youth leagues, public school districts and colleges that are already in the red on sports start paying brain-damage awards, they'll stop sponsoring football. They won't have any choice -- insurers will drop them. This, not the NFL's litigation maneuvering, is the nuclear bomb ticking."

Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle: "Commissioner Roger Goodell's ongoing strategy has been to get in front of this crisis, to keep it from dominating the headlines and perhaps, in a doomsday scenario, bringing down the NFL as we've known it. Each season brings additional safety-related rules in the realm of helmet-to-helmet hits and concussion protocol. In truth, though, nothing can fully curtail the violent nature of the NFL -- or the investigative nature of journalists looking deeper into the story."

September 5, 2013

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