Supreme Court Makes Billion-Dollar Decision In NFL Concussion Case

The settlement covers more than 20,000 retired NFL players for the next 65 years

After putting players through years of concussions—and their costly health consequences—the Supreme Court effectively finalized the tab the NFL must pay to set things right in the eyes of the law.

It’s a big one. Rebuffing some challenges to the settlement plan, the Court greenlit $1 billion in payouts from the league. “The settlement covers more than 20,000 retired NFL players for the next 65 years,” ESPN reported. “The league estimates that 6,000 former players, or nearly three in 10, could develop Alzheimer's disease or moderate dementia.”

Growing awareness of the sharp dangers to brain health posed by pro football careers—and the years of top-tier play as a child and teenager that precede them—has contributed to a shift in public opinion that’s seen to put the future of the NFL into unexpected question. Ratings have been plummeting: they’re down by nearly a third across all major broadcast networks. The league has even had to bat away rumors that Thursday Night Football could be pared down or eliminated entirely. Still, the trend is undeniable.

And health concerns aren’t the only culprit. The rise of online entertainment, the increased politicization of football by players, an increasing crackdown against on-field celebrations, and other factors, including the presidential campaign, have all been fingered. Whatever unfolds in 2017, one thing is clear: football’s dominance atop the American sports heap is no longer a no-brainer.