PHILADELPHIA (AP) The NFL's sudden acknowledgement of a link between football and brain disease comes as a U.S. appeals court prepares to rule on the fairness of a likely $1 billion settlement of concussion-related claims.

Critics who appealed complain that the NFL settlement excludes ex-players diagnosed with CTE in the future.

They have asked the court to consider the new statement from Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety.

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He told Congress this week that that research on deceased players ''certainly'' shows a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Some believe that means more cases down the road.

NFL lawyer Paul Clement says the remarks are nothing new and should not affect the settlement.

The federal appeals court in Philadelphia heard arguments in November and is expected to issue a ruling soon.