In a piece set to air on Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, Armen Keteyian will explore the NFL’s concussion settlement and chronicle the story of Junior Seau, who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after committing suicide in May 2012.
“The piece is really about the settlement itself and the complexities of it,” Keteyian said on Tiki and Tierney. “It’s a very difficult story to tell for television but this one is 15 minutes long and it sort of breaks it down. As everybody knows, it’s in the hands of a federal judge now in Philadelphia (Anita Brody). She’s expected to rule this month on whether the settlement is fair or not. And what we do is we look at it from the pros, the people that believe in it – and there are about 99 percent of the class that has remained in the settlement, so take that for what it’s worth. Most of the people have remained inside the settlement to see how much money they’re going to get. The payout range (is) as much as $5 million – depending upon how long you played in the league and what kind of brain disease you have – and they cover everything from ALS to Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s to some cognitive dementia problems.”
Interestingly enough, the Seau family has opted out of the settlement and – hoping to get accountability from the league – has instead filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL.
“They’re one of the few that have opted out of the settlement,” Keteyian said. “They left $4 million on the table under a category called CTE with death. And what’s interesting about that is, it’s the only category in the lawsuit (that offers) a direct link to CTE. And when you have a lawsuit that originated on the premise of CTE – and now in many ways CTE has been watered down and in some cases stripped out of the settlement – the Seau family has decided to walk away from $4 million and fight the NFL in court, which is a daunting legal task, to say the least.”
CTE, Keteyian confirmed, is not diagnosable until death, “but there are mood and behavior symptoms that are associated with CTE that can be absolutely debilitating: everything from insomnia to temper issues to impetuousness – just the inability to live a normal life.”
Showtime’s piece will also focus on former players Joe Phillips and Chris Martin. Philips has a law degree but does not practice. Instead, he lives with his mother, and “can’t really function on a day-to-day basis.”
Martin’s situation, meanwhile, is arguably more dire.
“He lives a life where he thinks about killing himself two or three times a week,” Keteyian said. “So yes, those symptoms are not covered, which is a point of contention in our piece and a point of contention for those that have opted out of the agreement.”
Interestingly enough, there could be a major breakthrough in CTE diagnosis in the next decade.
“Scientists tell us in the next five to 10 years, you will be able to diagnose CTE in the living,” Keteyian said. “Now, one would think as part of this nearly $1 billion agreement, there would be a provision in that agreement that would allow for some sort of compensation if CTE is found in the living. That is not in this agreement over the next 65 years. So that is a point of contention that the league pushed back on, and the attorneys for the retired players decided that they were going to let (that) go in order to get a settlement.”