Junior Seau's family will back out of the proposed concussion settlement being offered to former NFL players, ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru report today. Instead, the family will pursue its own wrongful death suit, according to the family's lawyer, Steven Strauss.
Seau committed suicide in 2012 and an examination of his brain showed he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
This means there might be one more chance to peel back back the NFL's shroud of secrecy on concussions, as well as reopening talks about how flawed the settlement remains. The concussion case, before the settlement, was seen as one of the few opportunities to force the super secretive league to acknowledge how much its leaders knew about the dangers of concussions and what it might have willfully hidden from players. That isn't lost on Seau's family.
"The family want to know why this settlement seems designed for expediency for the NFL and to ensure that information doesn't come out," said Seau lawyer Steven Strauss, a partner in the firm Cooley LLP. "And the Seau family wants the truth to come out. Since this litigation started, there hasn't been one document produced, there hasn't been one deposition taken. It seems very clearly designed to nip this in the bud and not have the truth come out, and that's not acceptable to the Seau family, and it's not acceptable to Junior's legacy."
Other families of former players have raised concerns about the settlement, which has hit various problems along the way. At one point, the settlement excluded players who died before 2006. There were concerns about players possibly having to pay their own legal fees. The latest ESPN report notes that the payout is now unlimited because "the judge raised questions about whether it provided enough money for the potentially large number of players who qualified."
When the concussion settlement was announced, it seemed like the NFL had gotten what it wanted—silence in exchange for cash. But it sounds like Seau's family won't be bought off so easily, and for the sake of finally revealing what the NFL knew all along, that might be the best we can hope for.
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