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NFL concussion awards on hold amid court appeals of potential $1 billion settlement

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PHILADELPHIA — Retired NFL players seeking payouts from the potential $1 billion NFL concussion settlement could be waiting until next year based on appeals being weighed this fall.

About 90 former players are appealing the final settlement approved this year by a federal judge in Philadelphia. The settlement covers about 21,000 NFL retirees.

Experts for both sides have said they expect about 6,000 of the retirees — or nearly 3 in 10 — to suffer from Alzheimer's disease or moderate dementia someday. The settlement would pay them about $190,000 on average.

Dozens of others are expected to be diagnosed with Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease. Younger men with these conditions could get up to several million dollars for medical care and other expenses.

The father of lead plaintiff Kevin Turner, a former Philadelphia Eagle who has battled Lou Gehrig's disease for five years, said the award would give his son "peace of mind." He and his wife, Myra, have retired to care for their son, who is divorced, at his home in Birmingham, Alabama. Turner's three school-age children live nearby.

PHOTO: FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2014, file photo, co-lead players' lawyer Christopher Seeger, center right, and client former NFL player Shawn Wooden, center left, speak with members of the media after a hearing on the proposed NFL concussion settlement outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. Retired NFL players seeking payouts from the potential $1 billion NFL concussion settlement could be waiting until next year based on appeals being weighed this fall.  Dozens of ex-players are appealing the final settlement approved this year by a federal judge in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2014, file photo, co-lead players' lawyer Christopher Seeger, center right, and client former NFL player Shawn Wooden, center left, speak with members of the media after a hearing on the proposed NFL concussion settlement outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. Retired NFL players seeking payouts from the potential $1 billion NFL concussion settlement could be waiting until next year based on appeals being weighed this fall. Dozens of ex-players are appealing the final settlement approved this year by a federal judge in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

"I want him to do what he wants with it," Ray Turner, 71, said Wednesday. "There's a lot of players in really bad shape that are probably not going to see (the money) because of the delays."

The settlement would resolve lawsuits that accuse the league of hiding what it knew about the risks of returning to play after suffering a concussion. The plan includes medical monitoring and treatment over 65 years.

Those appealing the settlement must detail their objections in briefs to be filed by Aug. 15. The responses are due in September, according to a briefing schedule filed this week by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia. Several of the lawyers filing appeals did not immediately return messages Wednesday.

Critics have complained that the NFL, with $10 billion in annual revenues, is getting off lightly. Others complain that the settlement does not include future payments for CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which some consider the signature disease of football. Negotiators argued that the science on CTE is still evolving.

U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody twice had negotiators tweak the settlement, but rejected other complaints raised at a November hearing, including those who decried the lack of future CTE coverage. Currently, the degenerative brain decay can only be diagnosed after death.

"The NFL parties were unwilling to settle claims based solely on a (diagnosis) ... rather than on manifest neurocognitive deficits. Many of the behavioral and mood conditions claimed to be associated with CTE are prevalent within the general public," the negotiators have said in court papers supporting the settlement.


This story has been corrected to show the last name of the judge is Brody, not Bordy.

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