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Senior NFL Columnist

NFL can afford $765M settlement, but players didn't deserve it

I just got off the phone with my attorney. Why?

I had a concussion playing 115-pound football and another in high school. Back then -- not leather helmet days but close -- they just called it getting your bell rung and stuck some nasty crap in front of your nose, and told you to go back into the game.

So I am suing.

Why not? I might get an extra $100,000 or so for my bank account. The precedent has been set. The NFL settled Thursday with a group of players filing concussion lawsuits to the tune of $765 million. So why not go after the high schools? Pop Warner? Colleges? And maybe even those two-hand touch games set up by our dads?

Pay up, Pop.

I know there are risks to play football. But that's what anybody who has ever played the game knows. And, yes, I know there are better ways now to handle concussions than they used to, but we once upon a time they also thought not drinking water was good for toughening guys up.

The high schools, colleges and NFL are all better aware of the issues relating to concussions now. That's important.

Deep down, I am glad the players got their money. The NFL can afford it.

But I will say this: I don't think they deserve it.

Nor do some of the players who played the game with them, guys who wouldn't put their names on the suits.

Former Jaguars left tackle Tony Boselli is one of them. He's had a laundry list of surgeries that make getting out of bed an adventure every day, and he said he had his share of concussions in a career shortened by injuries. But Boselli doesn't think it's right to file suit against the league.

His point: You know the risks when you sign up to play.

"And there are lot of guys who played the game who aren't having problems," Boselli said. "It's overblown when they say it's the majority. I see lot of functioning guys who played the game with me."

I've spoken with a lot of current players on this matter, and while they are concerned about the dangers of head shots, one -- yes one -- told me they wouldn't do it all over again. They love the game. They love the checks.

And, to me, that's what this is all about. It's a money grab.

Sure, there are some players who have issues related to football. I feel for them. Take care of them. But again do we know for sure it happened because of the NFL? Couldn't a college career impact the head? High school?

Nobody makes players play the game. They want to do so. It's like a police officer or fireman. They know the risks. They know they can get killed at any time. NFL players know they can get hurt, and have long-term issues.

How many would pass on the chance to play if they were forced to sign away any rights they would have to file suit down the road or even now? I say it would be 100-percent signing that document.

The good news is the league will do more to make it safer. The good news is the NFL, as we know it, isn't going anywhere. That's the best thing of all.

The bottom line is most fans and media members act like they care about the concussion plaintiffs. And we are sympathetic to them, but the reality is we are all selfish.

Without the NFL, I wouldn't have a job. Nor would a lot of people.

Without the NFL, what would you do on fall Sundays?

Without the NFL, television sports, and the advertising that goes with it, would be in trouble.

Without the NFL, fantasy sports would be a wasteland.

So while many of my media brethren pounded the drum for the concussion plaintiffs, I never did. There is no proof that the hits in the NFL are what caused any problems, especially when all these players played the game for most of their lives.

I am glad it's over so we can get back to focusing on the games on the field.

Then again, I might have to spend some time brushing up on my legal information.

I am going after my high school and Pop Warner football organization.

After all, how do you think I became so nasty?


Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and is the self-anointed star of CBS Sports' show, Eye on Football. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
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