Los Angeles (AFP) - An appeal filed by a former player and his wife could delay care for players covered by the potential $1 billion NFL concussion settlement, two lawyers said.
Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, attorneys for the retired players who sued the NFL over concussions and their lingering health effects, said they were "extremely disappointed and perplexed" by the appeal filed by Craig and Dawn Heimburger, which places the settlement on hold.
They said objections that would likely be made in an appeal have already been overruled by the federal judge who last month gave final approval to a revised settlement.
"With over 99 percent participation, it is clear the retired player community overwhelmingly supports this agreement," Seeger and Weiss said in a joint statement.
"Throughout this settlement process, we have heard directly from countless retired players who are in dire need of these benefits, and their most common question has been to ask how quickly they can get help.
"For those who hoped to receive benefits as soon as this summer, this appeal is heartbreaking news. We look forward to offering a forceful defense of the settlement in the Court of Appeals."
The settlement would pay up to $5 million to former NFL players diagnosed with a qualifying neurocognitive illness and includes money for education programs geared toward concussion prevention.
The deal settled thousands of lawsuits brought by former players who said the NFL was aware of the dangers of head trauma and hid such information.
US District Court Judge Anita B. Brody initially rejected a $765 million settlement reached in August of 2013 because she feared not every player who qualified would be paid throughout the 65-year term of the settlement.
The sides struck a reworked deal last July that included unlimited funds for former players and their families. Brody approved that deal in April.
Heimburger, 38, played for Green Bay, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Houston between 1999 and 2002, playing in 13 games.
He was among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the NFL by several former players in January 2012.