That's why its chickenshit withdrawal from working with PBS' Frontline on an extended documentary about concussions was not surprising. Nor was its ombudsman's weaselly attempt to justify that move.
Well, now, news that the NFL has agreed to settle a lawsuit by retired players, for the handsome amount of $765 million, puts ESPN's cowardice in a whole new light. So too does past touting of all it's done to cover the issue.
So does the fact that ESPN's story and blog about the settlement fail to mention the WWL's withdrawal from the Frontline piece. It's arguable that the Frontline issue didn't need to be in the story, even if ESPN's doing fairly serious overwrite of the AP piece. But, for Seifert to leave it out of the blog? Nope. Not good.
That's even more the case when either Seifert himself, or whoever writes his heads, trumpets how this "saved the game."
Nooo ... with no admission of guilt, and for relatively low cost — likely due to most the plaintiffs not having the money to stand up to Daddy Warbucks, personified by the Commish, Roger Goodell, in a trial and appeals — it saved the NFL. Not "the game," if by that we mean football in general.
Now, for about a third of (estimated possible damages), the league has settled the case before its dirty laundry was aired in court, and without admitting any guilt.But, that's the NFL, not "the game." Seifert admits as much in the last graf:
The NFL can go forth with certainty and continued vigilance, but for now at least, with no fear about its future in American culture.Bingo. I'm sure there's dirty laundry. But, barring another suit, we won't know. (See below for that.)
In fact, in the AP's story used as the base for ESPN's write-up, player lawyer David Frederick explicitly accused the NFL of covering up studies linking concussions and neurological problems.
But both story and blog hint that the NFL had "done all it could" on this issue.
More bollocks. Daddy Warbucks' continued push for an 18-game season, also not mentioned by the WWL, is proof beyond Frederick's claims that it had not. (I'm assuming this is the final nail in the coffin for Daddy Warbucks' push for that 18-game season.)
Let's also take note that the $765 million settlement is only 40 percent of the cost of the NFL's annual contract with ESPN.
Meanwhile, the No Fun League could be on the hook for some bucks over this:
The N.F.L., legal experts said, still must clarify how much of any settlement its insurance companies will cover. Several of them have argued in court that they do not have to indemnify the N.F.L. because of the policies they wrote. A lawyer representing Alterra America Insurance, which wrote one policy for one year for the N.F.L., told the judge that a settlement could cost $2.5 billion, a figure some legal experts considered conservative. The league and the plaintiffs had to consider their mounting legal bills.This ought to be fun.
And, maybe we will get a lawsuit that goes to discovery on this. A group of retired players may not have deep pockets vis-a-vis Daddy Warbucks. A major insurance company does.
That all said, what's actually in it for players?
Barring a rush of last-minute retirements, the players who sued, plus all other eligible retirees, will get $150K per person, roughly. Players can opt out, but it's doubtful they'll do better against Daddy Warbucks in a future suit.
That doesn't count the money going to the baseline medical fund.
As for the money going to research, assuming Frederick is right, a key question is going to be: who monitors that fund, including how its money is spent and how its findings are reported?
Other notes include the observation