Over the past few years, the discussion over chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has reached a boiling point in the NFL. The seriousness of CTE cannot be overestimated, with symptoms that include depression, memory loss, anxiety, and progressive dementia, among others. Indeed, many players afflicted with CTE have committed suicide as a result of the mental health issues they face. Making matters more difficult, CTE cannot readily be diagnosed while a player is alive; however, doctors can somewhat confidently diagnose CTE in some cases, based on observed symptoms.
Last year, an agreement was reached between the NFL and several thousand players, whereby the NFL would pay out up to $1 billion in claims to former players as well as the families of players posthumously diagnosed with CTE. However, the NFL players’ Collective Bargaining Agreement does not list CTE as a work-related disease, and it provides no coverage for the disease. This means that, up to this point, compensation is only available through personal injury lawsuits, such as the one discussed above.
According to an industry news source, however, a group of NFL players has asked a court to read a term into their Collective Bargaining Agreement to cover CTE as a work-related disease. If the players are able to get their agreement with the NFL to cover CTE, players suffering from the symptoms of CTE and the families of players who have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE will be able to obtain benefits without needing to establish that the NFL was negligent or at fault in any way. This would create an easier means of recovery for many players and their families.