The wives reacted to an opinion Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, in which Brody declined to approve a settlement in August between the National Football League and 4,500 former players, suggesting the $765 million might not be enough to cover the health needs of 20,000 players and their families.
"Hallelujah, so happy to hear that," Gerri DeLamielleure, wife of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe DeLamielleure, 62, told NBC News. "That's not even close to being enough money."
DeLamielleure has a degenerative brain disease related to concussions suffered during a 13-year NFL career, mostly with the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns.
In her ruling Brody wrote, "I am primarily concerned that not all NFL players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their related claimants will be paid." Even if only 10 percent of retired players receive a qualifying diagnosis, she wrote, "It is difficult to see how the monetary award fund would have the funds available over its lifespan to pay all claimants."
The settlement is structured to have a 60-year lifespan.
Tia McNeil, whose husband Fred prepared for life after playing for the Minnesota Vikings by earning a law degree but no longer can work, told NBC News Brody's decision was "huge. It's almost like the numbers don't add up."
The wife of former Oakland Raider Nick Bell, 45, noted her husband's depression and inability to work.
"The payout schedule (of the settlement) proposed doesn't begin to cover the cost of lost wages. A fair settlement would return dignity to many who have given, yet have been discarded," said Tricia Bell.