The proposed $765 million settlement in the NFL concussion lawsuit seemed to involve a lot of money — but it wasn’t nearly enough, Saints quarterback Drew Brees told afternoon talk-show host Katie Couric in a segment that aired Wednesday.
“There’s so many guys out there that need to qualify for disability and certainly need a lot more,” said Brees, who recently completed his 13th season in the NFL and his eighth with the Saints and is a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive board. “The amount of money that they’re talking about … sounds like a lot, but really it’s just a drop in the bucket for the amount of help that these guys need.”
Brees also reiterated a point to Couric that he’s made to the media before: The NFL is much better educated about concussion and traumatic brain injuries now than it was in the past. However, on Wednesday, he told Couric the league can still “certainly do more” to protect its players’ health.
Couric didn’t ask Brees to elaborate.
There is scientific evidence of a link between violent collisions common in football games and early onset dementia, brain damage and other devastating conditions found in ex-players. Works such as PBS’ “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” have documented how the league denied that evidence and sought to discredit it through the years.
Numerous ex-players filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the NFL of failing to provide adequate warning of the long-term risks of concussions in order to protect the image of the multibillion-dollar business of pro football. The league proposed to settle the litigation for $765 million, but the federal judge presiding over the case rejected it earlier this month, reasoning that it may not be hefty enough to cover the injured players.
Meanwhile, the league has been changing its rules to limit some of the game’s more violent hits, though there’s evidence that a career’s worth of less graphic, routine collisions can be just as devastating to a player.
Many — especially in New Orleans — believe the sanctions handed to the Saints in the wake of the bounty scandal in 2012 were merely meant to send a message that the NFL was trying to make the game safer as concussion litigation ramped up.
The MVP of Super Bowl XLIV also spoke with Couric about his wife, Brittany; their sons Baylen, Bowen and Callen; The Brees Dream Foundation; and the circumstances under which he joined the Saints in 2006.
Brees was also scheduled to appear on “Late Night with David Letterman” on Wednesday night; “The Colbert Report” on Thursday night; and “LIVE! With Kelly and Michael” on Friday.