Why Philadelphia Court Should Toss NFL Concussion Lawsuit

Players knew the risks, reaped immense rewards, and now want to blame the NFL for their issues.

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the really big game begins. And it’s going to be a head-knocker.

On one side we have the raiders. No, not Oakland, but the Trial Lawyers, who delight in raiding everything good and decent in America. They are representing former NFL players in their fight against the evil empire, a.k.a. the National Football League. At stake? Upwards of ten billion dollars, and possibly, the existence of the NFL itself.

And what is the nerve center of this federal lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia, that has the plaintiffs so mad they’re seeing double? What went so wrong that these former players, given a life of royalty by the NFL, now want to ring the League’s bell?

They suffered concussions playing football. No lie. That’s actually the basis of the lawsuit.

The sheer stupidity of such a suit makes you wonder if they really did get hit too many times, because no one of sound mind could dream up something like this.

It would seem, therefore, that their motive is rooted in something else: They’re looking for a handout.

Maybe they’re bitter because they didn’t play in the era of massive contracts. Maybe it’s because they can’t function as “regular” guys after being worshipped for so long, which, for many, started in grade school. Others may feel lost, with football the only thing they know. But their commonality is thinking they are entitled to something.

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The outcome of this lawsuit should be a no-brainer. But given the insanity in America’s civil legal system, a jackpot jury award is definitely possible. (NFL Properties and helmet maker Riddell are defendants, too.)

The players claim the NFL hid information linking football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries (such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease). In addition to monetary damages, they want the NFL to assume responsibility for the medical care involved for those players suffering from those health problems.

Let’s look at the case objectively:

1. This sense of entitlement is not just misguided but inappropriate. No one held a gun to players’ heads to sign lucrative contracts and become celebrities to play football. They’re big boys, and chose their profession—with its risks—of their own free will.

2. And yes, there are risks. Plenty of them. Football is not a contact sport; it’s a collision sport. It is an intensely physical, violent profession. That’s why God made pads and helmets, but any third-grader can tell you that those things only help to minimize injuries, and can never totally prevent them.

3. The pass-the-buck, take-no-personal-responsibility attitude so prevalent in America is once again on full display. Players knew the risks, reaped immense rewards, and now, after the fact, want to blame the NFL for their issues. And are we really supposed to believe that the NFL willfully engaged in a grand conspiracy to keep players in the dark about the effects of hard tackling? To swallow that, we must assume that the League had every doctor in the country on the take, preventing them from speaking to any player who had questions about concussions. And that it somehow inhibited medical professionals from conducting research into concussions and brain injuries.

4. Did the NFL, the medical community and our society know as much about concussions several decades ago? No. Is there a concerted effort now to better understand brain trauma, and to make all sports—including NFL football—safer? Absolutely. That’s not malfeasance. It’s progress.

5. Is the NFL culture one that glorifies big hits, highlights them on NFL films, and encourages playing through injuries? Yes, but so what? Fans love when players get leveled, and players love delivering big-time jolts, which often help their team. Gutting it out has always been a source of pride for players, who do it not to secure the next big contract but because they love the game. An admirable choice, but a choice nonetheless.

6. Where does it end? Should a firefighter who gets burned sue the fire department? Is a baker responsible because an obese donut-eater develops heart disease? And should office workers who develop carpal tunnel syndrome have legal standing to sue their company?

7. The NFL (and the Players Association) has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

The NFL also operates numerous health programs for current and former players, and offers medical benefits to former players, such as joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program, according to the League.

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Is it sad that some former players have trouble walking, concentrating and living a “normal” life? Sure. Is it a tragedy when a few commit suicide? Absolutely. But it’s time that these players stop blaming others for their situations and look in the mirror. They made their choices, and for most, lived a fairytale.

If they now choose to feel sorry for themselves, or regret their choices, fine. But it’s a personal foul to ruin the game—not just for current and future players, but for the people who allow the League to be so successful: the fans.

And you don’t need your head examined to see that.

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  • Samantha Sanderson

    Wow. This is by far the most ignorant post I have ever read. Based on the information coming out now, it is a huge issue that these players be taken care of after they retire from their football careers INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY brain injuries. Yes, the players willingly put themselves in the game, but did they know the risk they were taking? Likely not since the bulk of information we know about long term effects – like CTE – has only come out in the past few years and we barely even know the extent of the issue now. There is evidence that concussion information was around far earlier and that the NFL should have (and likely was) aware of, but it was not brought to the public’s attention because we wait until terrible things happen (like MULTIPLE players committing suicide – NOT just in football – and multiple young people die from second impact syndrome) to admit there is probably an issue. Until you live a day in the life of what it is like to have a brain injury, you might want to get off your soap box and listen to the real issues, not “Oh no, we might lose the NFL,” but we have kids, young adults, and professionals at risk of acquiring brain injuries that could alter their lives forever. The NFL players are bringing it to the forefront because they have the power, but the kids are the ones who need the attention. And NO most 3rd graders couldn’t tell you that a helmet doesn’t prevent head injuries, in fact most adults wouldn’t know that.

    By the way, how did these players that made big hits because they loved the game, NOT FOR THE NEXT BIG CONTRACT, change so much that they now want to ruin a game they love and the league they were a part of because they are “entitled” to this money? Keep your arguments consistent. You are part of the reason people don’t understand the severity of BRAIN INJURY.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Sanchez.Hector Hector Sanchez

      Today, players know what can happen and I dont see anyone turning away the money. Do you?

      • Samantha Sanderson

        I didn’t say they are turning the money away… I was using Chris’s exact quote that he said they aren’t doing it for the next big contract. At least get it right if you’re going to try to criticize.

        • Hosea9

          I certainly loved playing seasonal sports as a kid but my parents loved me enough to not allow me to play organized sports (ever hear of the Sandusky scandal at Penn State? ) You probably believe that Chris Dorner was not murdered by the racist and corrupt police also !

  • LL

    Chris, is it? Well, Mr. Friend, allow me to inform you on some things pertaining to this disgusting display of journalism. I understand your job is to write articles or blogs that create discussion or even piss a few people off…all for the almighty dollar. So, with that said, it would appear you are no better than these former players you are calling out regarding the NFL Lawsuit.

    Do I take offense to this blog you have written? YES. Here’s why. Do you know these former players and their families you are calling out? Do you! Do you know what it’s like to live with cognitive impairments on a daily basis? Or better yet, do you have any idea what it’s like to take care of someone with cognitive impairment? My guess is, based on this blog, you really have no clue. As someone who deals with the repercussions from my 10 concussions during a 14 year soccer career, I would not wish my life upon anyone. It’s been 5 and a half years since my career ending concussion- Today, I deal with chronic headaches, Light Sensitivity, Insomnia, Major Depressive Disorder, and Mild to Severe Cognitive in Impairment in Memory & Concentration.

    The bills that come from Neurologists, Medications, Rehab Specialists, and Therapists is not something I ever expected to be paying on at the age of 26. Is that my fault? Is it my fault that the term “CONCUSSION” was never uttered until 2007, when by then I had already suffered 9? Yes, I made a choice to play the game of Soccer…because I loved it with every ounce of my being. But, NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY ever once educated me or my teammates on CONCUSSIONS! Because of my coaches and Athletic Trainers ignorance on the issue, I am left to suffer…and NOBODY cares.

    Yet, here you sit Mr. friend writing some lame BS about how these guys knew the risks…I would bet my life on the fact that neither them nor their family knew that getting “dinged” would result in almost a vegetative existence of living.

    Finally, I would give you $10 per player filing this lawsuit to appear before them and their families and read this blog word for word. When you do it, I want you to look at each wife as you say it, and each child as you read those disgusting words that you have so candidly written. If you have a son or daughter, I want you to think about the implications you have set forth by writing this garbage and the impact it may have on them of they ever get a concussion.

    One last thing…do your research before you start to babble, the entire complaint is available online and accessible to the public. Perhaps if you read the REAL story, maybe you wouldn’t sound like a moron.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.saum.33 Kevin Saum
  • rexreed

    Chris,

    You forgot to mention how the players union plays a key role in making sure that its retirees are denied disability and other benefits.

    Dave Durerson presided over numerous cases denying legitimate claims until his neurological disorders caused him lose his business and blow take his life. Karma on a grand scale. I will be nice to see how current union leadership will be forced to pay the gods.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sanchez.Hector Hector Sanchez

    Bravo…Finally someone who is willing to call a spade a spade.

  • Hosea9

    I have no sympathy for the overpaid “men” who play a children’s game for profit and fame. In fact the people that need their heads examied are the parents of the kids that play football. Great article Chris, I heard you on Dom today!
    HEy Sanderson, people in all walks of life commit suicide. Anyone at any point who played or plays football must not care about their long term health.

    • Samantha Sanderson

      Hey Hosea, you don’t know anything about me so don’t assume what I do and do not know. Your statement is also ignorant. If you’ve ever loved playing a game you would never buy what you just said…

  • Kim

    As the daughter of a former player who played for 9 years in the 60’s I can assure you there was no fame or fortune involved. My dad held a second job and did his best to support his 7 children. His signing bonus? $500. His pension? Not enough to maintain a very VERY modest home and lifestyle. He still knows who I am- but barely. He doesn’t know where to put the dishes when he tries to unload the dishwasher. My mom gets to watch the love of her life slip away from her bit by bit, memory by memory.

    I know the perception- the money, the glory, the fame. For my family and for my dad it was just his job. He happened to be a great athlete who had an opportunity to play football. You could not meet a more kindhearted and modest man. These are many of the players that are affected by traumatic brain injury. These players loved and continue to love the NFL. But they need help- and a lot of it. Shame on you for your ignorance and the voice you have been given here. I’ve no doubt that your mediocrity will bring you on a long road to nowhere in your career.

    Shame on you.