Former Viking ‘hopeful' on NFL settlement

Former Viking Brent Boyd has been fighting the NFL to receive funds for medical treatment for decades. He's hopeful about a new settlement but still has questions about it.

Years ago, Viking Update got its introduction to the concussion problems of NFL players by talking to former Viking Brent Boyd. Boyd, a Viking from 1980-86, suffered a series of severe concussions and dealt with the symptoms ever since. He was the poster boy not only for the concussion issue, but for the problems players have had getting the NFL to admit that playing football was a contributing cause to the health issues he was having later in life.

Boyd was one of the first former players to testify before Congress over the issue, describing the inaction of the NFL to the legislators by saying the league's practice of dealing with former players was summed up by the mantra, "delay, deny and hope they die."

In an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal Thursday, Boyd said that he is hopeful that the amended concussion lawsuit agreement with the league will help players but isn't getting too excited about it because he knows firsthand how difficult the battle can be for former players to get diagnosed and treated.

"I'm hopeful that they're going to take care of me," Boyd told the Gazette-Journal. "My attorneys are like doctors and they're not going to guarantee anything, but they're optimistic that we have everything that I need. But we're all skeptical as hell because anybody who has dealt with the NFL for any length of time is cynical. We've seen them delay, delay, delay and deny, deny, deny before, so it's hard to be optimistic."

Boyd, 57, has dealt with debilitating health problems due to concussions he suffered as a player. One in particular stood out his mind, an injury that was accompanied with blinding pain and severe migraine headaches that had Boyd contemplating suicide merely to stop the agony.

Boyd has become an advocate for former players, founding the group Dignity After Football that helps assist former players in getting attention to their injuries and trying to force the hand of the NFL to acknowledge that their injuries were work-related.

While he's happy the two sides are getting closer to a final resolution of the concussion question, Boyd doesn't believe the pool of $765 million is enough and won't believe it will be paid out until he sees it after battling with the league for more than 20 years over his injuries.

"They could raise the cap to a gazillion dollars, but it's just fantasy money until they put it in the hands of retirees," Boyd said. "They've really tightened up the requirements, the eligibility standards, to qualify."

Boyd receives approximately $3,000 a month in disability payments, but it falls far short of his medical bills because his condition has made it impossible to work or get health insurance.

While the bottom line of the NFL concussion saga with former players is hopefully coming to a resolution that will get settlement funds to players, for players like Boyd, it may be too little, too late. He has suffered for almost 30 years from his decision to play NFL football and has become frustrated that the league has denied its culpability in allegedly not properly diagnosing the injury and putting him back on the field when he was putting his future on the line.

When the litigants in the class action suit vote on the matter, Boyd isn't sure which way he'll go – to vote in favor or opt out and continue his own litigation. But, after all these years, it seems as though Boyd is willing to let U.S. District Judge Anita Brody's decision stand on behalf of players, because he is simply exhausted from the fight.

"I'd be tempted to opt out, but I've fought these guys so long, I'm worn out," Boyd told the Gazette-Journal. "I want to be optimistic that Judge Brody has created a deal that financially rewards us to the point where I can move forward with my life. I'll never be able to rebuild my life, but I might be able to live my life with dignity."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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