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Settlement could cost NFL up to $1 billion over 65 years

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A federal appeals court on Monday approved a class action settlement that may cost the National Football League $1 billion.

The settlement, which is expected to cover more than 20,000 retired football players over the course of 65 years, releases all concussion-related claims against the NFL, according to the ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

In 2011, more than 70 former NFL players sued the league, alleging that it failed to take reasonable actions to protect them from health risks associated with head injuries, such as Alzheimer's disease, depression and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, according to court records.

Since then, 5,000 players have filed similar lawsuits.

According to records, the settlement includes an uncapped, inflation-adjusted monetary award fund that will remain in place for 65 years and provide compensation for retired players with certain diagnoses; a $75 million baseline assessment program that provides eligible retired players with free examinations of their objective neurological functioning; and a $10 million education fund to teach players about injury prevention.

A qualifying diagnosis entitles retired players to a maximum monetary award of $5 million for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, and $3.5 million for Parkinson's disease, for example, records show.

Of the more than 20,000 estimated class members, who are living NFL football players who retired before July 7, 2014, 234 initially asked to opt out from the settlement and 205 joined 83 written objections, according to the ruling.

“It is a testament to the players, researchers and advocates who have worked to expose the true human costs of a sport so many love,” the ruling states. “Though not perfect, it is fair.”