A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims. . The ruling by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia came about two weeks after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages. Brody had previously questioned whether that would be enough money to pay all claims. "A class action settlement that offers prompt relief is superior to the likely alternative — years of expensive, difficult, and uncertain litigation, with no assurance of recovery, while retired players physical and mental conditions continue to deteriorate," Brody wrote. More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia. The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and give $1 million or more to retirees who develop Lou Gehrigs disease and other profound neurological problems. "This is an extraordinary settlement for retired NFL players and their families — from those who suffer with neuro-cognitive illnesses today, to those who are currently healthy but fear they may develop symptoms decades into the future," plaintiffs attorneys Sol Weiss and Christopher Seeger said in a statement. NFL senior vice-president Anastasia Danias said in a statement that the league was "grateful to Judge Brody for her guidance and her thoughtful analysis of the issues as reflected in the comprehensive opinion she issued today." The original settlement included $675 million for compensatory claims for players with neurological symptoms, $75 million for baseline testing and $10 million for medical research and education. The NFL would also pay an additional $112 million to the players lawyers, for a total payout of more than $870 million. The revised settlement eliminates the cap on overall damage claims but retains a payout formula for individual retirees that considers their age and illness. A young retiree with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrigs disease, would receive $5 million, a 50-year-old with Alzheimers disease would get $1.6 million and an 80-year-old with early dementia would get $25,000. Even with the cap removed, both sides said they believe the NFL will spend no more than about $675 million on damage claims by ex-players. Critics of the deal have said the league, with annual revenues approaching $10 billion, was getting off lightly. They could raise objections at a fairness hearing scheduled for Nov. 19, and ultimately opt out of the settlement. However, they would then face the risk of a protracted legal fight, and would have to prove any injuries were caused by NFL concussions and not any suffered in youth or college sports. The proposed NFL settlement had originally barred claimants from seeking a separate settlement against the NCAA, but that clause has been removed. A separate lawsuit is pending against the NCAA in Illinois. "I think the judge has forced them to make improvements," said University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who teaches product liability law. "I think she always felt she had an obligation to the players, to be sure they were getting a fair deal ... given the treatment to date." The settlement would be capped at $4 million on behalf of players diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after their deaths, such as San Diego star Junior Seau or Pro Bowler Dave Duerson. Both of their families, through lawyers, have expressed concerns about the settlement. Duerson died at age 50. A family lawyer has called their projected $2.2 million award to the family "not adequate." . - The New York Rangers have momentum, a unified locker room and Henrik Lundqvist. .com) - The New York Jets have named Mike Maccagnan their new general manager.NEW YORK -- Between the 15th and 16th picks in Thursday nights draft came a very special selection by the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver announced at that point that the NBA would let Isaiah Austin fulfil the dream of every young player, making him a ceremonial pick. Just over a week ago, the sophomore centre from Baylor was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the heart. It ended his playing career. The illness was discovered during a physical for the draft. "For Commissioner Silver to even invite me here was a tremendous blessing and it just shows how much class that man has," Austin said. "Its really been a tough week for me, and its been really rough. Ive just had a tremendous amount of support from everybody around the world, telling me theyre praying for me and everything. I cant thank everybody enough." The crowd at Barclays Center rose to its feet as Austin, sitting in the waiting area with most of the first-round picks, hugged family members and put on a generic NBA cap. He went up to the stage and posed with Silver, just as all the drafts picks do when they are called. During the season, the 7-foot-1 Austin revealed he had a prosthetic right eye after multiple operations couldnt repair a detached retina. Austin, expected to be a high pick when healthy, said he felt he has "a great story to share." He said Baylor coach Scott Drew has already offered him a coaching position with the Bears. "I have a whole life ahead of me," Austin saaid. . "Im not going to sit here and Im not going to sulk about not being able to play basketball anymore, because I can still be involved with the game somehow or some way." Austin said there was plenty to enjoy on what would have been his draft day. "Just being around all the draftees and seeing my friends get drafted, it just brings joy in my heart because I know how hard we work to get to this point," Austin said. "Ive been through it. ... Just to see how people persevere through their own problems, because everybody has their own problems. Its touching and its heart-warming, really." Minutes after Austin made the walk across the stage, there were comments on social media. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves tweeted: "Happy Isaiah Austin was able to hear his name called at the NBA draft. Very cool to see." The 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard tweeted: "Adam Silver hasnt been on the job 12 mos and is already doing a remarkable job! Very classy move. God bless Isaiah Austin." Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder tweeted: "Adam silver is such a classy man! Thats love right there. Im emotional for him. Damn I love that." Austin is already spreading his message of perseverance. "I want people to know they can push through anything, because Ive done it," he said. "I just want them to know they have the power within themselves to do it if they keep faith and a positive attitude." ' ' '