Local coaches believe NFL settlement will help pros, young players

By Erika Mahoney

Local coaches believe NFL settlement will help pros, young players

August 30, 2013 Updated Aug 30, 2013 at 12:14 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) As local football teams prepped for the upcoming season Thursday, the nearly billion-dollar NFL settlement was on the mind of youth coaches.

After a lengthy battle, the NFL reached an agreement over concussion-related injuries with former players one week before the regular pro-season gets underway.

Pending the signature of a judge, $765 million dollars is proposed to compensate former players for their medical bills and help fund research.

It's a move with which local coaches were pleased.

Fran Angeline, former head football coach for Union-Endicott High School, said the settlement is a victory.

"I think the message is excellent," Angeline said. "I don't know the details yet of what is coming down, but to me, it's emphasis, and that's good. As we said way back, you know, you don't fool with the head."

Angeline said the settlement is sure to get peoples' attention.

Concussions have been a long-time problem, but conversations about them are fairly new.

The coach of the Vestal Youth Football League said he has watched some NFL greats go down because of head injuries.

"The injuries are increasing as we've seen," VYFL Coach Andy Choberka said. "But these other players are handicapped, or having other problems mentally, and they are committing suicide. And we can't have that go on. I mean really, that is just horrible to see some of your heroes that you grew up watching commit suicide."

Choberka said the settlement is a step in the right direction.

"I don't think they (NFL) are doing enough," said Choberka. "The fact that they are doing something, it's about time."

Choberka said he strives to teach players -- and his own son who plays varsity for Vestal High School -- to protect their bodies on the field.

The youth league also just bought state-of-the-art helmets designed to prevent concussions.

At Vestal High School, the junior varsity head coach agreed that employing new technology and research is key to safety. He said the settlement will help push those areas forward.

"The big thing is the medical research, the baseline testing," said coach Brian Donlin. "You know, those types of things are going to bring awareness. Because base-line testing, from what I've been reading, is kind of the way they need to go."

The local coaches agree the settlement will bring safety awareness to professional players, and those striving to one day play in the big leagues.

Still, the NFL is not admitting to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

More than 4,500 former players were involved in the lawsuit, but any former player can apply for compensation.

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