The NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to resolve concussion-related lawsuits with a $765 million settlement that would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research, a federal judge said Thursday.
The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett. They also include Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.
Many former players with neurological conditions believe their problems stem from on-field concussions. The lawsuits accused the league of hiding known risks of concussions for decades to return players to games and protect its image.
The NFL has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted that safety has always been a top priority.
"This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer," the NFL stated.
Former fullback Kevin Turner is one of the plaintiffs. He suffered two concussions and is now battling ALS.
"A very important step for assuring that future generations of football players do not suffer the same way that many in my generation have,” Turner says.
Former Redskin Lavar Arrington is not part of the lawsuits. But on his radio show Thursday, he spoke with another former Redskin - Clinton Portis - who is a plaintiff and welcomed the settlement.
“I'm glad that there are funds that are going to be put into place for guys that need the help to be taken care of,” Portis says.
The settlement includes $75 million for baseline medical exams, $675 million to compensate former players and families affected by concussions, a $10 million research and education fund as well as payment of legal fees.
“At first blush, I love the sound of it. I think it will go a long way with former players and even current players,” says Barry Sanders.
In statements, the court appointed mediator says: "This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.