In what a judge called an “historic” agreement, the National Football League has settled claims with thousands of former players for $765 million. The ex-NFL players have claimed that the league concealed the risks they faced from repeated impacts to the head. The NFL will admit no wrongdoing as part of the terms of the settlement, which still must be approved by the judge.

The agreement involved lawsuits by about 4,500 former players for the NFL, and appears to mark a turning point in what has long been one of the most controversial subjects in sports law. The settlement will set aside $675 million to go to former players who have suffered brain injuries. About $75 million will cover medical exams. The remainder will fund research and miscellaneous expenses related the lawsuit. The NFL will pay the players’ legal fees on top of the $765 million.

A spokesperson for the NFL said that the agreement comes as part of the league’s efforts to make the game safer. The league has been in a hotbed of controversy in recent years because of the lawsuits and media attention on the dangers of brain injury faced by football players. The settlement was announced just a week before the league’s fall season was to begin.

It’s no secret to Florida athletes or anyone else connected to the sports industry that sports pose risks of injury, and that some of these injuries may be cumulative. The agreement could signal a new era in which the sports business starts to take a more proactive approach in injury research and in trying to prevent long-term damage to athletes. Those who work in the sports industry in Florida will definitely want to keep an eye on these developments and their legal implications in the months ahead.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, “NFL Reaches $765 Million Settlement in Concussion Lawsuits,” Eriq Gardner, Aug. 29, 2013