Judge OKs NFL concussion settlement

Philadelphia, PA ( - A federal judge has granted preliminary approval of a revised settlement agreement between the NFL and former players who sued the league over concussions.

The new deal, struck last month, would provide unlimited funds to retired players and their families if the players suffer from neurocognitive illnesses.

U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody wrote in her decision on Monday that her concerns over an earlier settlement were "satisfied" and that the revised deal "is a significant improvement" over the previous one.

In January, Brody rejected an agreement struck last August in which the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation to retired players and their families.

The new "uncapped" settlement, Brody wrote, "ensures that there are sufficient funds available to pay all claims through the 65-year term of the settlement and improves the manner in which diagnoses are made to protect against fraud."

Under the agreement, retired NFL players and their families are entitled to a wide range of benefits, including funds for medical exams and a compensation fund for retirees who have suffered cognitive impairment, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and ALS.

The settlement also establishes $10 million fund for education programs geared toward concussion prevention.

The court will hold a fairness hearing last this year where plaintiffs can object to the settlement.

NFL senior vice president Anastasia Danias said Monday the league was grateful to Brody for her analysis and called her decision comprehensive. Danias said the league will work with the plaintiffs to implement terms of the settlement.

The more than 4,500 players who sued the league -- including Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson -- believed the NFL knew about the dangers of concussions and hid information about them for years.