“Today if you hit too hard, right. They hit too hard, 15 yards throw them out of the game. They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys just really beautiful tackle. Boom! Fifteen yards, referee gets on television, his wife’s sitting at home. She’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game.” Donald J. Trump
It’s hard to believe that anyone would advocate flagrant violence in sports for the sake of entertainment. Aside from Donald Trump, it would seem that maybe the NFL does. Because of a 2015 settlement, the league must now pay former players an estimated total of $1 billion over the next 65 years to anyone who suffered head trauma.
Is The NFL Stonewalling?
This would be good news to league veterans who have been diagnosed with a myriad of ailments resulting from injuries sustained during their playing days. Problem is, the NFL is allegedly thwarting the former pros’ efforts to get their fair share of the payout.
The New York Times reported that of the 1,400 claims filed to date, only about 10 percent or a mere 140 claims have been approved. These claims represent $195 million owed. Making matters worse, only $100 million has actually made it into the hands of the people who need it.
The claims process is moving at a painfully slow pace leaving over 17,000 people and families who have filed claims in limbo. While they continue to submit and resubmit required documentation to prove that their medical conditions are legitimate, the league is reportedly working overtime challenging claims and, in some cases, outright denying them.
A Painfully Slow Process
New York-based attorney Christopher Seeger who is the co-lead counsel for over 500 former players told the Washington Post that while the process is slow, the class action lawsuit is complex.
“The rate is going to pick up every single day,” Seeger said. “So it’s working well. Is it perfect? No. Is it working as well as I would like? No. I would like more claims approved and things moving along. But you can’t anticipate Day 1 every single thing that’s going to come through.”
Show Me The Money
With every day that passes, however, former NFL players are suffering from declining health. The payment delays are adversely affecting their quality of life. Ron Fellows, a former cornerback with the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Raiders, has Alzheimer’s disease.
The 60-year-old was diagnosed just two years ago. His wife Debra filed a claim on May 23 which was declined in late October because the settlement administrator requested more documentation. She is convinced that the league is stonewalling them.
“And you know what? This isn’t just happening to us,” Debra said. “It’s happening to everybody I speak to. They’re being asked for information that they’ve already been given multiple times. It’s all a delay gimmick.”
Sadly, it appears that doctors are finding more injured players than the league originally anticipated. Rejecting claims might be the only way to protect the NFL’s bottom line. And there are many who believe that’s exactly what is happening.”