The Los Angeles Times says ( http://lat.ms/XLiSkD) sports leagues and their insurers are working to halt the practice, which has paid an estimated $747 million to about 4,500 players since the early 1980s.
The athletes are taking advantage of a provision in state law that provides payments for the cumulative effect of injuries that occur over years of playing.
NBA star Moses Malone was awarded $155,000. Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin received $249,000.
The newspaper reports some of the athletes played as little as one game in California.
The benefits usually come as lump-sum payments but sometimes are accompanied by open-ended deals to provide lifetime medical services.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com