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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Judge: NFL, Players To Settle Concussion Lawsuits

This hit, Oct. 3, 2010, left the Cincinnati Bengals' Jordan Shipley (center) with a concussion, and the Cleveland Browns' T.J. Ward (right) with a fine. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

This hit, Oct. 3, 2010, left the Cincinnati Bengals’ Jordan Shipley (center) with a concussion, and the Cleveland Browns’ T.J. Ward (right) with a fine. (Amy Sancetta/AP)

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.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia announced the proposed settlement Thursday after months of court-ordered mediation. She still must approve it at a later date.

The settlement likely means the NFL won’t have to disclose internal files about what it knew, when, about concussion-linked brain problems. Lawyers had been eager to learn, for instance, about the workings of the league’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was led for more than a decade by a rheumatologist.

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