The NFL is launching an aggressive push to combat the scourge of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that can lead to dementia and other mental disorders.
The league announced Thursday that it will create a program to track the “most prevalent and dangerous” CTE cases in the league and the league will work with researchers to develop a standardized tool to track CTE risk.
The NFL said the program would help “make the most of the data that we have.”
The NFL, which last year agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by former players alleging they were drugged and left to die of CTE, is also looking to add a new revenue stream to the league’s coffers, with the goal of generating a $1 billion revenue stream in 2025, a new source told the Associated Press.
The new revenue, estimated to be between $400 million and $500 million, would come from a number of sources.
The new program would create a new type of “caregiver” that would provide financial support to players and their families and provide education for players on the disease.
The program would also create a network of doctors that would be paid to perform certain tasks for the players, including getting them evaluated and monitoring their symptoms and the effects of playing.
The NFL said it would use its “financial leverage” to expand the leaguewide CTE program to include all NFL players.
The union that represents the players’ union, the NFL Players Association, has said it is “deeply concerned” about the proposed new revenue.
The players union said Thursday that a representative had spoken with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and said the league would address the union’s concerns.
The proposed new CTE “caretaker” program, which is not set to begin until 2021, would allow players to access financial assistance from the league for treatment, health insurance and other expenses.
The league has been facing a number CTE-related lawsuits, including a $9.9 billion class action settlement that was reached with former players and a $3.5 billion class-action settlement that the NFL settled in 2015.
The first concussion case in the NFL was settled in 2014 after former player Darrelle Revis pled guilty to six counts of involuntary manslaughter, and in March, former linebacker Ray Lewis agreed to a three-year deal with the league.
In June, the New Orleans Saints paid $1.5 million to former player Michael Bennett, who had a torn ACL in 2015, and was charged with CTE.