Local former NFL pros join concussion settlement

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By: Asher Wildman | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
August 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The word 'concussion' in the game of football is a scary one. Recent studies show the long-term impact that playing football has on former players' brains.

Several thousand retired NFL players have signed up for a settlement versus the NFL prior to Monday's deadline to join.

Aside from monetary compensation, players will also receive better health care.

"You are playing a violent sport," said Rodell Thomas, who played with the Seattle Seahawks and Miami Dolphins during his four-year NFL tenure. "Statistics show now that every hit in the NFL is like a 30 mile per hour car accident."

It's a common concern for NFL players; what will happen to them tomorrow, the next day, the next week or even the next year.

"My biggest fear today? Waking up the next day and not know who I am," Tamaric Vanover said, who had a six-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. "My biggest fear about tomorrow? My kids having to bury me. It's one of my biggest fears."

Thomas felt the pressure of going back into the game after suffering an injury, deciding to come back rather than wait for a potential head trauma to properly recover.

"It was a job for me. If I couldn't play the next day or the next week, I was afraid I wouldn't stay on that team because of an injury," Thomas remembers. "It was tough on me. I really wanted to be a professional football player and my having a concussion...I couldn't afford to sit out."

Godby High School head football coach Corey Fuller spent a decade in the league, registering over 500 tackles in his career. Between 1995 and 2004, doctors diagnosed him with four concussions.

Now, he just wants proper medical coverage for himself and others.

“We are the number one sport in the world, in America, but we have one of the worst insurance deals after a career is over with," Fuller explained. "If It were me (in the NFL), I would be fighting for better heath care and insurance for players, so they can get the treatment and help they need to try and prolong life.”

Depending on a player's age and severity of their brain illness, a monetary compensation will be awarded anywhere from $25,000 to $5 million.

After medical costs, insurance and payouts, this settlement would likely come to more than $1 billion dollars for the former players.

Since 2002, the NFL has made 47 rule changes to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions as well as strengthen the league's medical protocols.