While all the focus has now been on the soap opera surrounding the NFL Concussion Lawsuit Settlement, it’s important to remind everyone that many of the retired players and their families have still been mired in the tangled mess of fighting for their EARNED disability and retirement benefits. The League’s longstanding MO of Delay, Deny and Hope They Die has certainly not changed at all. Which was why we originally helped to promote the Opt Out campaign over 3 years ago. But then many of the attorneys eventually convinced us that the settlement offer was the best version possible while also trying to play the guilt trip about “hurting those who could not wait much longer.” So we ended up going along with the herd and almost everyone opted back on board. Well, here we are heading towards the end of the year and the lawyers are still fighting over who’s in charge and who’s going to get the biggest piece of the upfront lawyers’ fees that the NFL dangled in front of their noses to get to a quick settlement and avoid a long trial.
Aside from the few cases that are now being ‘reviewed’ and criticized by the Special Counsel, there are also many individual lawsuits still making their way through the court system. And as we pointed out, most of them continue to be fought aggressively and appealed each time the League loses.
One of the cases going back for appeal again is George Visger’s clear cut case against California Workers Comp and Travelers Insurance (the underwriter for the 49ers). George had played for the San Francisco 49ers and finished his 2-year career with them after being with the Super Bowl XVI team. Nine brain surgeries and hydrocephalus for life while constantly being turned down for any benefits. George eventually filed in California (his home state too) and they won his first trial along with an appeal that followed. And now, the NFL wants to have another appeal hearing when George’s case is as open-and-closed as any case we’ve ever seen. All the best, George.
Meanwhile, Brandi Winans (widow of Jeff Winans – Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1973 – 1978) has also been getting dragged through the appeals process, with the NFL still trying to question the clear post-mortem analysis that Jeff had severe CTE in his final years. The question stands: If this is how the NFL continues to treat former players and their families over the years, what makes anyone believe that a tiger can change its stripes?
Keep in mind that the NFL’s talking points included “Oh – but we have to wait until all the results are in because you can’t detect CTE in a live brain!” This was their byline after donating $1 million to Sports Legacy Institute to study CTE in retired players’ brains post-mortem while Chris Nowinski collects a reported salary of $250K a year.
With that, here’s a personal note from Brandi:
This is exactly what has happened with our case. As many of you know, my husband, Jeff, passed away in December of 2012 and after the initial autopsy, his brain was given to Dr. Ann McKee at Boston University and the VA through – at that time – Sports Legacy Institute.
We are part of the settlement we applied in May through our attorney. we went through many review boards some which weren’t even in the settlement that my attorney had never heard of and the end of September we were given a monetary award. the monetary award was reduced several hundred thousand dollars because they argued that out of the six seasons Jeff played, two of them were taken off because although he was on injured reserve (while still on their payroll), they weren’t head or concussion-related injuries!
After much prayer, my son and I decided to move forward. From the claims administrator’s office who are the ones who make the determination on monetary Awards, it went back to the NFL for final review.
It was our understanding that the NFL honored whatever the Claims Administrator had awarded.
So they had 30 days to review the case and of course, on the 30th day they denied our claim. In spite of the fact that Dr. McKee’s report confirmed my husband had Stage 2 CTE.
We are now appealing and as you can read from this article, this is still happening more than it should.
When I attended the 2007 Congressional hearings and the Ditka press conference prior, I testified in written testimony before Congress about what the families and the players go through behind closed doors. I even wrote a book called The Flip Side of Glory.
We passed the medical review board from the Claims Administrator from 5 neurologists including Dr. McKee. I didn’t realize that the NFL’s attorneys are now Physicians who have the right to deny claims on players that have passed away or who still live with such strong diagnoses as Parkinson’s, ALS and dementia.
They claim they’re protecting their money from fraudulent claims.
This past Monday, Monday there was a hearing in Judge Brody’s office with the number of attorneys behind closed doors.
Judge Brody please read this. Please help! Let someone get this to Judge Brody – we need your help! This is wrong!
And here’s the New York Times article from Ken Belson that Brandi was referring to in her comments:
Debilitated Players Accuse N.F.L. of Stalling on Settlement Payments
The families of debilitated former N.F.L. players say the league is obstructing their access to an estimated $1 billion settlement over concussions by reflexively rejecting valid claims and bogging down the process with unreasonable demands.
After a contentious five-year fight between the league and many former players who had accused the N.F.L. of hiding the dangers of head trauma, the two sides agreed in 2015 to a settlement that covers nearly every former player for the next 65 years.
Now the families and their lawyers describe a succession of roadblocks as they try to claim payouts, from as little as a few thousand dollars to potentially several million dollars, to help thousands of retired players left mentally infirm, in some cases severely, from years of hits and tackles on the league’s fields.
Of 1,400 claims filed so far, 140 have been approved, which legal experts say is startlingly low. The remaining 90 percent of those claims are in the process of being evaluated or have been sent back to the players and their lawyers to amend before they can be approved.
The 140 approved claims are worth $195 million, but the N.F.L. has written checks for only $100 million. The remainder is expected to be released after appeals are exhausted. The league has appealed eight awards that the administrator granted, and 12 players have appealed their awards, calling them too low. The administrator also randomly audits 10 percent of all claims.
You can read the rest of that NY Times article by clicking HERE.