What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Lost in the media-gasm going on about the return of football, there is a story that has quietly been emerging, and it’s a story that shouldn’t be lost. The National Football League is being sued over concussions.
Mark Duper, Ottis Anderson and 73 other former players sued the National Football League, claiming it concealed information about the danger of concussions for decades. The negligence, fraud and liability suit was filed [July 19th] in Los Angeles Superior Court. Many players’ wives also are plaintiffs.
The suit alleges the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions but concealed them from coaches, trainers, players and the public until June 2010. It also names helmet-maker Riddell, the NFL’s official helmet supplier. It seeks unspecified damages.
“We have not seen the complaint but would vigorously contest any claims of this kind,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement.
Riddell spokeswoman Laura Moore said the company had not yet reviewed the complaint and its policy was to not comment on pending litigation.
The contention from the former players is that repeated concussions from the rough-and-tumble nature of the NFL caused brain damage. They cite a laundry list of symptoms allegedly caused by these injuries such as headaches, memory loss, blurred vision, sleeplessness, and Tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Some of the plaintiffs go as far to say the injuries caused depression, anxiety, “explosive mood changes,” poor judgment, and substance abuse.
It doesn’t really matter which side you find yourself on; there’s the “NFL is responsible for the well-being of its players” camp, and there’s the “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it” camp. The fact is this case is likely to get some legs, if for no other reason the plaintiffs have hired a big-time lawyer who specializes in getting big out-of-court settlements. His name is Thomas Girardi, and he is best known as the lawyer who went after Pacific Gas & Electric in the “Erin Brockovich” case.
The plaintiffs allege the NFL knew that multiple blows to the head can cause long-term brain injury. The plaintiffs also allege the NFL only warned active players in June 2010 of the risks associated with multiple concussions; their suit goes on to claim Riddell failed to warn active players until around the same time. Also according to the suit, neither the NFL or Riddell ever warned former players.
The key to the whole thing lies in the following paragraph.
The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee was established by the NFL in 1994 to study the risk of long-term brain injury to players. The suit contends that the committee published “false, distorted and deceiving” findings that the risk was minimal in order to deceive Congress, players and the public.
That means the whole thing is going to boil down to a “he said, she said” situation. Some jury is either going to have to believe the NFL actively practiced deception, or that the allegations are without merit.
But the fact that Girardi is involved likely means this case never sees a jury.
Just like in the Erin Brockovich case, Girardi is likely going to shoot for a big out-of-court settlement. The NFL has deep pockets, and this guy knows how to turn deep pockets into big checks.
There’s two problems here. First, the injection of the big-time lawyer means no matter what happens, the “best-case” scenario (meaning the one that actually addresses the plight of the former players) isn’t going to happen. This is going to be all about money.
Secondly, that will expose this lawsuit was always about money. Hark back to the days of the NFL Lockout. Remember how one of the key points of contention was carving out a few bucks for the care needed by the retired players? Did you ever wonder why that seemed to slip under the radar?
Think about this possibility…the NFL Player’s Association dropped that demand as a bargaining tool knowing they could use a lawsuit as a back-door means of getting that money out of the league.
Once the high-priced lawyer got involved, that became my primary suspicion. If I’m right, it means two things. First, it means the interests of the retired players were never a primary concern. Second, it means this was more about money than anything else. Despite the fact this new collective bargaining agreement is in effect for ten years, you had better believe if the league gets skinned for big money on this lawsuit, the concussion issue will be a headache again in a decade.