Two weeks ago the National Football League agreed on a $765 million settlement of a lawsuit over concussion-related brain injuries among its 18,000 retired players. In the settlement, the NFL agreed to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.
As a former NFL player, Koegel, the Jacksonville State athletics director, is covered in the settlement. For him, it’s more of a safety net than a windfall.
“You don’t get a piece of it, that’s a misconception,” he said. “It’s there to help people who need help. It doesn’t mean each of us is going to get some money.
“The suit is about helping people who need help and their families, but because I’m a vested player, I am involved. If somebody’s got some real issues there needs to be funding to help anyway they can to help that person and their family.”
Koegel played five NFL seasons as a center with the Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Cardinals and New York Jets. He remembers having one concussion during his career — in a game against the Green Bay Packers. He also had two knee surgeries.
“There are a number of things the players from years ago — all us retirees out there — weren’t compensated the way people are today,” Koegel said. “I think in many ways the payment today is ridiculously high, but the lifetime of an NFL player is 3-5 years — less in a lot of cases.
“That being said, there obviously are some people who’ve had serious injuries and operations — including me. Everybody’s working to teach safety and play the game tough and physical and all that, but play it the right way. The last five years there has been a lot more movement in medical help for retired players. There are a lot of plans out there now that are helping the retired players.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.