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Hawaii-bred players to benefit from settlement with NFL

    Rich Miano holds the Kaiser High School helmet presented to him by his alma mater overlooking the school’s gridiron. While helmets have improved in safety over the years, he says other factors have increased the chance of severe head injuries in football ranging from youth leagues to the professionals.

More than two dozen former University of Hawaii and island-bred football players are expected to share in the $765 million settlement by the NFL of a lawsuit brought by 4,500 former players over claims surrounding the effects of head trauma.

The settlement was announced today in Philadelphia by the NFL Players Association and followed almost two months of negotiations under a court-appointed mediator.

“I think the (settlement) is a win/win for everybody,” said Rich Miano, Kaiser High’s football coach, who spent a decade in the NFL and has been a spokesman for the players.

Miano said the settlement “allows everybody to move forward and players that need it to get medical attention they require.”

He said the number of players with Hawaii ties “is difficult to quantify at this stage but more than 90 percent of those we contacted probably signed up to participate (in the suit).”

The settlement is to be submitted for approval to U. S. District Judge Anita B. Brodyin Philadelphia. Under the agreement, the NFLPA said the NFL and NFL Properties will contribute $765 million to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL football players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. Attorneys’ fees, to be approved by the district court, will be paid in addition to the settlement amount.

A statement by the NFL Players Association said, “retired players will have the opportunity to participate in baseline medical exams. Players with demonstrated cognitive injury, now or in the future, will be able to obtain a monetary award. The decisions regarding who qualifies and the amount of the award will be made by independent doctors and fund administrators agreed upon by the parties, and the federal court in Philadelphia will retain ultimate oversight.”

Miano said “a main goal was to have comprehensive medical care for 22,000 NFL players.” He said additional benefits have been the focus on prevention and care of head trauma in the NFL, college, high school and youth leagues.

“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” said Layn Phillips, the court-appointed mediator. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed,” Phillips said.

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