The number of personal injury suits filed by former professional football players, including some who played in Baltimore, has grown to more than 80. These suits represent more than 2,000 players who said the National Football League didn’t do enough to treat brain injuries that resulted from concussions.
Now, one master complaint has been filed in federal court in an effort to unite the cases under one umbrella. The plaintiffs now have put on paper their complaint that the NFL attempted to hide what it knew about the effects of repeated blows to the head.
Also named as in the suit are NFL Properties, the league’s marketing entity and helmet manufacturer Riddell. The complaint contends the helmets were defective and not suitable to protect players from head injury. It also states that the NFL has tried to hide the risks of concussions and has turned its back on the serious nature of brain injuries.
A U.S. District Court judge will have to decide if the case has merit to proceed or throw out the case, as the lawyers for the NFL will likely request.
The NFL contends that it has preached player safety and made concussion awareness a priority. It also believes that former players are not entitled to sue the league because issues regarding injuries are part of the collective bargaining agreement signed by the players and agreed to by their union. In 2009, it installed rules that players who have suffered a concussion must be cleared by a team of doctors, including an independent neurologist, before returning to play.
The widow of one former player disagrees. Her late husband, who played in the league from 1972 to 1979, committed suicide in April. He was a plaintiff in the first concussion lawsuit brought against the league, and his attorney said he suffered from dementia.
The lawsuit seeks damages for the players, but also asks the court to require the NFL begin to monitor players for potential brain injuries. With so many players in the suit, it’s hard to think that everyone is making it up.