In 2013, the NFL agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by more than 4,500 players and their families who claimed the league had concealed knowledge about the risk of head injuries. Five years later, a reported 90 percent of former players who have filed claims are still waiting for their checks.
In a segment of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that will air Tuesday night on HBO, former players Mark Brantley and Ken Callicutt, both of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s, tell reporter Jon Frankel that they have not yet been paid what the NFL owes them from the settlement.
Jon Frankel: “When people call you up and they say, ‘Well, what’s your opinion about the settlement?’”
Ken Callicutt: “Oh, they call us to congratulate us. ‘Congratulations. We heard that the settlement went through, and they’re gonna help take care of you guys.’”
Jon Frankel: “And when you tell them that you haven’t gotten paid?”
Ken Callicut: “They can’t believe it. They go, ‘If they’re not paying you, who are they paying?’”
Per Real Sports, Calicutt’s age and diagnosis mean he should have been paid about $1 million in the settlement. Instead, his claim was rejected, as the league denied that he actually had Alzheimer’s.
But while Calicutt’s applications was denied, other claims simply haven’t been heard, Real Sports reports. The NFL’s (highly contested) explanation? Fraud.
In a statement, the NFL told us that “any delay in the processing of claims is the result of doctors and lawyers who have submitted hundreds of fraudulent claims”. The league alleged there is “significant, documented evidence” that many players are faking their symptoms…
Jon Frankel: “Do you think that the NFL’s claims of fraud, widespread fraud are overstated?”
Chris Seeger: “No doubt they’re overstated. There’s no doubt based on what I’ve seen.”
Attorney Chris Seeger negotiated the settlement on behalf of the players. He says that while some fraudulent claims appear to have been filed, the league is crying wolf about the size of the problem in order to keep from paying …
Chris Seeger: “It is not widespread. It’s not rampant, in my view. I don’t wanna let them use this as an excuse to not pay legitimate claims.”
Jon Frankel: “The N.F.L. cites fraud on the parts of doctors, other players. Is that a legitimate concern of theirs?”
Mary Brantley: “Well, it’s a convenient concern. But we, nobody’s contacted us. They didn’t ask us any questions. They didn’t try to vet Scot’s application.”
Per Real Sports, the league has issued payments to several hundred former NFL players, most of whom suffer from severe conditions such as ALS. Meanwhile, thousands of others continue to wait.
The Real Sports segment will on Tuesday night’s show, which begins 10 p.m. ET on HBO.