When $765 Million Isn’t Enough

When $765 Million Isn’t Enough

By Kevin Woo

NFL_tackleLast August the National Football League settled a lawsuit with its players union. The league agreed to create a $765 million fund for retired players who suffer the effects of repeated head trauma. Independent neurologists concluded that violent blows to the head can cause concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, dementia and ALS.

The fund is designed to last for 65 years to take into account players who have yet to enter the league. Currently, there are approximately 6,000 plaintiff claims.

The money will be distributed on a sliding scale with those who currently live with dementia receiving between $3-5 million.

This week U.S. District Judge Anita Brody denied preliminary approval of the plan stating that she was unsure that the proposed amount would be sufficient to address all of the potential plaintiff suits for the next 65 years.

nfl_tackle_2Likewise, a number of players have noted that the league earns $9 billion annually, and question whether the proposed $765 million fund is sufficient to cover players through the year 2079.

The squabbling of $765 million doesn’t matter to those who live in the real world. Most of will never play in the National Football League nor will we ever be eligible for dementia benefits from our employer.

I think what’s important is that the NFL is “willing” to set aside $765 million (by the way this doesn’t include $112 million in fees, which have been set aside for the lawyers).  It’s a good first step in doing the right thing.

But let’s put this fund into perspective. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the total amount of funding for research in 2013 was $480 million. Don’t we have this backwards? Shouldn’t we be funding research first? Shouldn’t we be finding ways to help families meet the escalating costs of elder care?

In 2014 the total cost to care for the 5.3 million people who live with dementia in will exceed $172 billion.

nfl__in_flightThe point isn’t to begrudge the NFL players. They play a violent sport and suffer the consequences. The point is, if the NFL can fund what amounts to a private insurance plan, why can’t someone do the same for those families who aren’t as fortunate.

In its plan the NFL has generously added a line item for “medical research and education.” The amount:  $10 million. That’s little more than 1% of the total $765 million fund. And then there are the lawyers with their $112 million in fees.

NFL tackleTo all of those associated with the NFL, your squabbling about a few million here and there is disgusting. More than five million people suffer from dementia every day. The problems associated with dementia and related diseases are larger than you can even imagine.

For Information & FREE Resources On Dementia & Caregiving

Check Out Alzheimer’s Speaks Website Below

Alz Speaks multi logo_091113

Need An Inspiring Speaker To

Shift Perceptions and Give Hope?


Call or Email Lori La Bey,

She’s lived the journey of dementia with her own mother for over 30 years!

6 Replies to “When $765 Million Isn’t Enough”

  1. don’t knock the NFL at least they care more than our President and Congress, who think that $100 million for Alzheimer’s (dementia) is really good. In a Pigs Eye it is. At least even though it took attorneys somebody is stepping up to the plate. Let us use this to help educate the populace, what is needed. I also applaud Mike Ditka for making commercials with Jim McMahan in them, who suffers.

  2. I am the play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Ravens. My father, John Sandusky, played and coached in the NFL for six decades. He suffered from Alzheimer’s for the final five years of his life. I think we are over-simplifying the NFL’s concussion lawsuit issue by thinking there is a magic number that is “enough” to solve the problem. Yes, money is needed for care—probably more than any of us realize. But there is another, unexplored dimension to this story. I believe from watching my father’s decline and that of many of his friends, that separation from football in the later part of their lives did as much to accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s as head trauma earlier in their lives. Clearly there is a medical link well worth exploring to head trauma early in life and dementia, Alzheimer’s issues later in life. But I think there is also a spiritual aspect that is under-explored, an aspect of self-worth, self-identity that football provides for pro athletes. The loss of that identity, I believe, also played a significant role in the link between Alzheimer’s and former NFL players. I also think that extends to former college players too who for various reasons didn’t make it in the NFL.

    I explore some of this in my new book, Forgotten Sundays, published by Perseus Books. It comes out in April. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.