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NFL Facing Concussion Lawsuits

By Theresa Ficchi [Saturday, February 25th, 2012]

Within recent months there have been an abundance of lawsuits filed against the NFL revolving around serious alleged health issues suffered by former players who endured multiple concussions and/or head trauma during their playing days.  Today, the public seems to widely accept the notion that the League has an obligation to protect the players; that is why the league has instituted new procedures and coaches and team medical staff now make the call as to whether a player can return to a game after suffering a head injury.  Among other things, these suits claim the NFL was negligent in its treatment of reported symptoms of concussions, and intentionally and fraudulently mislead the players involving the effects of concussions.

The NFL created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994 in order to research the effects of concussions on players and ways to address the impact of concussions on the players.  The suits allege that, in reality, the NFL used this committee to commit fraud and make intentional misrepresentations to or withhold information from players.  On the other hand, the connection between concussions and serious long term brain effects is still far from an exact science: there may be contradicting evidence but it is a learning process where different studies may have different results.   The NFL has and continues to maintain that safety of the players is a priority.  As a result, the League and its individual teams have made adjustments in areas like protective gear and game rule changes.

If the time and further research proves that concussions cause many or all of the alleged long term health effects, how accountable is the NFL?  Even if all of the current data is not 100% reliable, there is certainly enough to put the League on notice?  And what about the players’ culpability?  Most are well paid, many by the millions of dollars per year, and they surely can no longer say that they weren’t aware that there may be severe consequences if they suffer head injuries while playing.