Former players of the U.S. National Football League (NFL) suffering from years of hard hits to the head could each receive up to $5 million, after a federal judge in Philadelphia gave final approval to a settlement between the NFL and about 5,000 retired players.
The deal that covers 65 years and could cost the NFL $1 billion was deemed by the judge to be "fair, reasonable and adequate."
A ruling on the lawsuit filed by the players was made last July after the NFL agreed to remove a $675-million cap on damages for head injury claims, including brain damage and dementia.
Wednesday's agreement allows for monetary awards of various amounts depending on the number of seasons a player participated in the NFL, his age at diagnosis and other criteria.
The average expected award is $190,000. The maximum payout for a player with Alzheimer's was set at $3.5 million. More than $1 million can be awarded for former players in their 30s and 40s who suffer from Parkinson's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease, or for deaths involving chronic brain trauma.
The NFL's lead counsel said the decision "powerfully underscores the fairness and propriety of this historic settlement."
The lawsuit claimed the NFL hid what it knew about concussion risks suffered from playing the hard-hitting game of American football, which surveys say is the most popular major sport in the United States.