Monday January 26th, 2015

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told GQ that when it came to settling the lawsuit brought by former players who claim the league knew about the risks of head injuries, the NFL did everything it could to “protect the brand.”

McNair’s quote is part of a long article on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s tenure written by Gabriel Sherman.

More than 5,000 former players sued the league, saying that league knew the risks involved with playing football and did not protect the players of medical problems that eventually occurred after their playing careers ended.

“It was about protecting the brand," McNair told GQ. "Do we want the brand attacked on this for the next ten years? Or do we want to go ahead and take the high road? In effect, we don't think most of these concussions referenced even occurred in the NFL, but we're not going to complain about it."

The league and players eventually agreed on a $765 million settlement to help pay for more than 18,000 retired players’ medical exams and to fund research on the concussion issue.

According to the magazine, Goodell held meetings with the NFL’s owners in the summer of 2013 with the goal of putting the bad publicity surrounding the concussion lawsuit and the Bountygate scandal involving the New Orleans Saints to rest for good.

In 2012, the NFL fined the Saints $500,000 and suspended four players and three coaches, including head coach Sean Payton, for the entire 2012 season, for their roles in the bounty program. Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the suspensions, even though he found that three of the players engaged in conduct detrimental to the league.

- Scooby Axson

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