P.M. Notes on the UC-Berkeley Wrongful Death Lawsuit Settlement With Ted Agu’s Family

UC-Berkeley’s $4.75 Million Wrongful Death Settlement With Ted Agu’s Family Is an Atrocious Deal For the People of California
April 14, 2016
U.S. Government’s New George Gibney Papers To Be Covered by Sunday Times of London; Plus Other New Irish Press
April 15, 2016

“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=10931

Complete headline links to our series: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877



by Irvin Muchnick


The narrative of a lawsuit is rarely if ever told in its settlement text, and that is the case with today’s announcement — already reported here and analyzed here — on the end of Agu v. The Regents of the University of California.

Telling the fuller story requires shining light on secret records in connection with the case. I am confident that Concussion Inc. will be the vehicle for that before too much longer.

In the meantime, here’s an addendum to harsh comments I made earlier. I still consider the settlement an atrocious deal for the people of California, and for those of us everywhere who seek to expose this nation’s sick football system in all its excess. It is not, however, a terrible deal for the Agu family. And in no way do I want to redouble their pain by suggesting that they were obliged not to take the deal in front of them.

On the non-economic side, the commitment to better sickle cell trait research and education is a meaningful legacy for Ted Agu. Cal’s pledged reforms of football training strike me as less impressive, and the ongoing protection of head coach Sonny Dykes and strength coach Damon Harrington does no favors for the next Ted Agu. If we know anything about Football America, it is that the pipeline is clogged, cradle to grave, with more Ted Agus.

As for the dollars, the comparison of the $4.75 million recovery here with the $10 million jury award in the Ereck Plancher case against the University of Central Florida needs some context. The fact of the matter is that the Plancher family, now with parents in their 70s, have yet to collect a dime; after deploying a scorched-earth strategy in lower court, UCF has proceeded to tie up resolution and closure, now going on nearly a decade,  with higher court appeals. That is one of the differences between a settlement and a day in court, which laypeople often fail to appreciate. Also, while the University of California’s liability firewall in front of strength coach Harrington and athletic trainer Robert Jackson is shameful, the willingness of the institution to acknowledge liability fairly efficiently, without a trial that would cost thousands of dollars a day, is defensible. I want to acknowledge that perspective.

The root of football pathology cannot be cured with a judicial docket number and a checkbook, but only with some reverse English on what author and historian Matt Chaney has aptly named a national “spiral of denial.” So on to the Agu Papers. They will expose what a disgraceful job the San Francisco Chronicle and others have done in informing their readers, listeners, and viewers on the dirt, the muck, the depravity of obsession with this sport at what is perhaps the world’s greatest public university.

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick