A settlement in the concussion lawsuit involving more than 4,500 retired players against the NFL was reached for a proposed $765 million Thursday.
The agreement will be submitted for approval in federal court in Philadelphia.
"It literally caught everybody off guard -- nobody expected it," a source close to the situation told The Sports Xchange. "They were keeping this tight. I think the commissioner knew and otherwise only those negotiating."
The league doesn't admit fault in a news release. The amount players will receive will be "determined by the diagnosis."
According to the press release from Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator in the consolidated concussion-related lawsuits brought by the retired football players against the NFL and others, ruled on the proposal that would end the litigation against the NFL and NFL Properties and provide medical and other benefits, as well as compensation, to qualifying injured players or their families. Phillips is a former District Court Judge.
"This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football," said Judge Phillips. "Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed."
The concussion-related injuries suit has been in mediation since July. United States District Court Judge Anita B. Brody from Pennsylvania was expected to rule soon on claims from former players that the league was guilty of negligence and fraud. Brody will preside over the proposal agreement.
Attorneys' fees, to be approved by the district court, will be paid in addition to the settlement amount.
The NFL denied all claims and mounted a player safety initiative that brought about rule changes, a new system for fines and reviews of in-game offenses in which players who make helmet-to-helmet contact are subject to financial penalty and partnerships with medical and equipment experts from youth football levels and up.
"This agreement lets us help those who need it most and continue our work to make the game safer for current and future players. Commissioner Goodell and every owner gave the legal team the same direction: do the right thing for the game and for the men who played it," said NFL Executive Vice President Jeffrey Pash. "We thought it was critical to get more help to players and families who deserve it rather than spend many years and millions of dollars on litigation. This is an important step that builds on the significant changes we've made in recent years to make the game safer, and we will continue our work to better the long-term health and well-being of NFL players."
The NFL Players' Association released a statement that reads: "All of the plaintiffs involved are part of our player community, and we look forward to learning more about the settlement."
Insurers for the NFL and its players have denied any obligation in this case, as many of the plaintiffs participated in different eras, with changes in rules, equipment and treatment options.