The National Football League in the past has paid at least $2 million in disability payments to players who sustained brain injury during their careers, according to The New York Times.
That may prove to be a damaging bit of information for the NFL, which is currently is being sued by several thousand retired players who allege that the league withheld information about the long-term impact of concussions on the brain. The NFL denies those charges.
But according to The Times, which picked up a story that ESPN broke, in the 1990s and early 2000s the Bell/Rozells NFL Player Retirement Plan made several payments to brain-injured players. For example, in one letter the head of the retirement plan said that then-retired Mike Webster had a disability “that was the result of head injuries he suffered as a football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs,” according to The Times.
Webster is now deceased. But other players, namely Browns lineman Gerry Sullivan and a third unidentified player, also received disability payments for brain injuries they has suffered.
The NFL played down the significance of the past payments, The Times reported, stating that it all just proves what the league claims: That brain injury is addressed in the players’ contract already, and should be handled as a potential disability on a case-by-case basis.