By Mark Maxwell
Bears Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers told the Chicago Tribune that he did not instruct his lawyer to file a suit against the NFL.
Reports began circulating on Friday that Sayers would be suing the NFL to recover damages from "devastating, concussive head traumas." The lawsuit was reportedly filed by John F. Winters of Winters, Salzetta & O'Brien, LLC in Chicago.
"I didn't sign anything," Sayers told the Tribune. "I had about one half of a concussion in all of the years that I played. I didn't say any of the things [Winters] said in the paper."
Just last month, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement which will benefit over 4,500 former NFL players. The money will be designated to provide medical benefits and injury compensation for retired NFL players, fund medical and safety research, and cover litigation expenses. Retired federal judge Layn Phillips served as the court-appointed mediator for the settlement.
“This is a historic agreement, one that will make sure that former NFL players who need and deserve compensation will receive it, and that will promote safety for players at all levels of football,” Judge Phillips said in a statement. “Rather than litigate literally thousands of complex individual claims over many years, the parties have reached an agreement that, if approved, will provide relief and support where it is needed at a time when it is most needed.”
The NFL made it very clear that they were eager to compensate former players. There has been no effort to prohibit or exclude any former players from receiving compensation, but larger amounts are made available to those who experienced escalated medical ailments such as Alzheimer's, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and dementia. Any one of over 18,000 former players are eligible to receive benefits from this settlement. The funds are not exclusively available to only the participants in the suit. It seems highly unnecessary for Sayers to file a separate individual suit.
When asked about the reports of a new lawsuit, Sayers told the Tribune, "It is crazy. I have been trying to call [Winters], but he is out of the office. When I saw that this morning, I said: 'Why do they have that in the paper?' Those comments didn't even sound like me."