The federal judge presiding over the NFL concussion lawsuit has requested changes to the proposed settlement, according to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times.
U.S. District Judge Anita Brody said the settlement should include coverage for the families of those ex-players who died from the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, between the preliminary approval of the settlement last July and now.
Brody also requested that players' seasons in NFL Europe, which existed from 1991-2007, count toward the eligibility requirements for the settlement. The judge gave a deadline of Feb. 13 for the two sides to accept the changes or explain to the court why they don't agree with them.
The NFL has faced increased scrutiny in recent years over the game's violence and its long-term effects on the health of players. That has led to multiple lawsuits, including the consolidated concussion lawsuit that involves approximately 25,000 retired players and 9,000 relatives of deceased players.
Head injuries and concussions have often been at the center of concerns over player safety, especially as research has shown that CTE is likely the result of the type of repetitive head injuries common in football. The disease causes symptoms such as memory loss, aggression, depression and erratic behavior, among others. Several former players who committed suicide in recent years have later been found to have had CTE, including Junior Seau and Mosi Tatupu.
No test currently exists that can identify CTE in the living. Under Brody's proposed changes, the concussion settlement still won't include those players currently exhibiting symptoms of CTE or the families of those players who died of the disease before 2006 or who later die from the disease after the final settlement is approved.
The NFL said last week concussions were down 25 percent in the 2014 season.
A $675 million settlement between the league and players was initially rejected last January before July's preliminary approval, in which the NFL agreed to lift the cap on the settlement.
- Ben Estes