By Mary Wisniewski
Jan 6 (Reuters) - Lawyers for former NFL players with concussion-related claims released details on Monday on how a proposed $760 million settlement with the National Football League would be divided, with the largest awards going to the players who were the youngest when diagnosed with health issues.
The lawsuit against the NFL represented thousands of players, many suffering from dementia and other health problems, who accused the league of hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from the sport's violence.
The settlement would provide a maximum of $5 million for players diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease; $4 million for a death related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE (diagnosed after death; and $3.5 million for diagnoses of Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.
The largest awards would go to retired players younger than 45 when diagnosed, according to court documents. Awards also are affected by the number of seasons played and non-football related brain injuries.
"The compensation provided in this settlement will lift a heavy burden off of the men who are suffering," said Kevin Turner, a representative for the players who sued and a former running back for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots football teams, in a statement.
"It will give them and their families the security and care to have the best quality of life they are able to have," Turner said.
The NFL admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, which was first announced last August before the start of the regular season.
The details were released as part of a motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, now pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Sports business experts have described the settlement as a modest amount of money for the NFL, believed to generate total revenue of $9 billion or $10 billion a year.
Besides payments to retired players with diagnosed conditions, the settlement provides up to $75 million for neurological testing for eligible retired players and $10 million to support education programs promoting safety and injury prevention.
In recent years, there has been a spate of suicides among current and former NFL players, including Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau, Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson.
While none of the deaths could be directly connected to football, violent and erratic behavior is consistent with symptoms of a condition tied to the repeated hits to the head that players endure during games and practices.
A growing body of academic research shows those hits can lead to CTE, which can lead to aggression and dementia.
The research has prompted the NFL to make changes in play, including banning the most dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits and requiring teams to keep players who have taken hits to the head off the field if they show symptoms including gaps in memory or dizziness.
The National Football League could not be reached for comment. (Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Lisa Shumaker)