A big weight was lifted off the shoulders of NFL owners and former players Thursday.
The league and more than 4,500 former players agreed to a $765-million settlement on concussion-related lawsuits after nearly two months of intensive negotiations under the supervision of United States District Judge Layn Phillips.
The proposed settlement comes exactly a week before the start of the regular season and will provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL players, fund medical and safety research and cover litigation expenses.
As part of the settlement, the NFL does not have to acknowledge liability or that the injuries were caused by football.
According to the settlement, $675 million of the $765 million would be used to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury.
"The benefits in this agreement will make a difference not only for me and my family, but also for thousands of my football brothers who either need help today or may need help someday in the future," said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, who was diagnosed with ALS.
"I am grateful that the NFL is making a commitment to the men who made the game what it is today."
The NFL will pay half of the settlement over the next three years and the rest over the following 17 years, according to reports.
"To their credit, both sides recognized that it would be far more productive to get out of court and do something good for retired players with medical needs and focus on the future of the game and making it safer," said Phillips in a statement released by the league.
"I would characterize it as a 'win-win.' The alternative was for the two sides to spend the next 10 years and millions of dollars on litigation, which would have been great for lawyers, expert witnesses, trial consultants and others. But it would not do much for retired players and their families who are in need."
It was estimated that that a lengthy legal battle could have cost the NFL upwards of $2 billion when it was all said and done.