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The National Football League is facing another lawsuit from former football players who claim the NFL did not inform them about the dangers they faced from concussions sustained in the sport. CNN reports that "More than 100 former professional football players, including former Atlanta Falcons Jamal Anderson, Chris Doleman, and O.J. Santiago" are part of a new suit "filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by attorney Mike McGlamry, [which] states that the NFL 'repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury.'"

In late April, 28 former players, including three Hall of Famers, filed a similar suit in Houston. Also in April, Ray Easterling, the lead plaintiff in yet another large suit, committed suicide.

While the NFL has made changes in recent years aimed at protecting players from concussion, for many years it had denied the connection between concussions suffered on the field and the terrible symptoms players faced later in life, and continues to claim that "any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit." The question, as it so often is, is what the NFL knew and when, and what it was telling players at the time. There can be no serious question that thousands of former football players have faced serious health consequences and shortened lives from their football injuries.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Wide World of Sports and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Junior Seau (9+ / 0-)

    One has to wonder if concussion related depression had anything to do with his apparent suicide.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:41:26 AM PDT

    •  He shot himself in the chest (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The reason likely is so that his brain would be intact to be studied.  Dave Duerson, a Chicago Bear who committed suicide last year, also shot himself in the chest.  He left a note specifically asking that his brain be donated to the team at Boston University studying former players' brains.

      Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

      by aravir on Thu May 03, 2012 at 10:40:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We will never know. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He could have been depressed for so many other reasons: Not big enough, not gorgeous enough, not beloved enough. For some reason, I think of Marilyn when I think of Junior -- people who seem to have it all, but who see all the flaws in themselves in a relentless drive for perfection. They cannot live up to their own image.

      I will always remember him for playing his ukulele in the Honolulu Airport, very quietly, but quite well. He had a softer side that did not show on the field.

    •  Yes and that has shaken up a lot of people (0+ / 0-)

      particularly former players..they have been talking about it on ESPN this week. Some former players are really upset with the NFL.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:34:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What is the difference... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justus, JGibson

    ...between a sport that uses up players bodies and throws them away, and the sports being criticized for being tolerant of pharmaceutical-enhanced athletes, like pro cycling?

    Pro Football looks to me like it destroys it's participants when it's played as it's supposed to, much like cigarettes kill people when used as intended!

    I can hear the crazy right-wingers screaming already about "free-dumb" being taken away, "they'll take our football when they pry the remote from our cold, dead fingers..." or, alternatively, "What will you liberal pussies want next, FLAG FOOTBALL?"

    "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

    by leftykook on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:43:50 AM PDT

    •  There are things that can be done to mitigate the (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Losty, Justus, Adam B, Avilyn, ebohlman

      the severity of impacts to the heads of players, such as padding on the outside of helmets that, reportedly, the NFL doesn't support as it will detract from the "sounds" of the game. The NFL can change rules and enforce existing rules so that the game is played however they intend it to be. That can be in a safer way, or as it is played currently.

      •  And then there's boxing -- where the entire object (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Melanie in IA, tommymet

        of the sport is to win by giving one's opponent a concussion -- which is precisely what happens when a boxer suffers a knockout. There is very little debate about the long term effects of this. One only needs to see the tragic state of Muhammad Ali.  

        Problem is: as long as there are those who stand to profit handsomely from exploiting our collective addiction to violence (as voyeurs or as participants), it will be very hard to end this. When is the last time when anyone heard a serious discussion about outlawing professional boxing, or at least changing it so that scoring is based on clean body blows, and knockouts would be disqualifying rather than instant victory?

        To the NFL players, I say: go for it. There is no reason why the rules of football should not be changed to minimize the potential for brain injury.

        "But there is so much more to do." - Barack Obama, Nov. 4, 2008

        by flitedocnm on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:12:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The rules *are* being changed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That's a good thing.  There are also equipment modifications that could be made, particularly in helmet construction.  I read an article sometime back on how Riddell (primary helmet provider to the NFL) has resisted newer in-helmet technologies with the NFL, because the product liability exposure of existing helmets (at all levels of organized football) would be enormous.

          The test of whether we're willing to stand up to the thugs that wrote voter suppression laws is this: Are you willing to hold hands with someone that needs hand holding in order to qualify to vote?

          by Richard Cranium on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:17:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A Better Example Was... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Jerry Quarry.  His decline at a very young age is really sad.  Two of his brothers also suffered badly from boxing concussions.  Iam sure that Quarry took many more head shots than Ali.

          •  My great aunt's first husband was a boxer back (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in the 1920s in Chicago and he suffered severe concussions and he became violent towards her, thus she neded her marriage. My dad said then it was called, " punchy' when a boxer went nuts from being hit in the head too much.

            Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

            by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:36:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  'flag football' comments are quite (0+ / 0-)

      common on sports websites that bring up concerns for players health.  

    •  In the short term.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....I see a fund being established, much like the Black Lung settlement fund, where a player with brain injuries can get compensation for their injuries.

      For the long term, equipment changes, penalties for blatant concussion-causing hits, and bans on playing until a player has reached a baseline level of brain function should be put into effect.  We see that in high school football and junior hockey -players who lose consciousness, even for a second, are kept out of action until their brain function is compared to a pre-season baseline.

      We saw that immediately with Portland Winterhawks forward Ty Rattie - he was checked awkwardly into the boards Thursday night and may have hit his head - he was taken into the locker room and immediately given brain function testing, and was held out of last night's game.  Evidently, he didn't have a concussion, but coaches and trainers are keeping players off the field/ice just to be sure.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:06:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really am (6+ / 0-)

    concerned for all the players. The NFL really should make more headway in protecting players. I love football, but want them to be safe. I am glad the NFL suspended the Saints coach that had a pool of $ to make game/career ending hits on players. They could do so much more on the concussion front. As usual, it is the culture.

    Truth is harmonious, lies are discordant.

    by Babsnc on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:52:01 AM PDT

    •  it's an inherently unsafe sport (0+ / 0-)

      that's part of an inherently unsafe world.

      Anybody who wants to claim that they had no idea playing football could have negative long-term consequences is full of shit. I play 3 years in high-school and at least one of my homies is literally stupider than he was when we started freshman year. When they encouraged him to not quit the team after several concussions is when I decided not to come back out for senior year.

      Bottom line is that people play despite the risk, either for fun or for the potential to go to college/make the NFL, but it's not like they don't know it exists.

      Now that's not to say the NFL shouldn't do better by it's players, but as long as people want to watch violent sports and are willing to pay for the privilege, this will remain a problem.

      "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

      by joey c on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:08:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't suffer concussions.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but did suffer three serious knee injuries playing football in my teenage years, and also didn't play my senior year.

        Then again, our coaches drilled into us "Don't hit with your helmet, you'll break your neck" - almost all my hits were shoulder blocks and tackles.  I remember colliding head-first a couple times, but never losing consciousness.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:12:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, in that case despite your injuries (0+ / 0-)

          you can count yourself relatively lucky for having a coach who knew enough to recommend against spearing.

          "You try to vote or participate in the government/ and the muh'fuckin' Democrats is actin' like Republicans" ~ Kweli -8.00, -6.56

          by joey c on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:00:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Professional football is a brutal game on bodies (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, in the Trees

    Promising athletes are coddled from the time they're in the peewee leagues.  This extends through high school, college, the minors (in some sports), and professional level sports.

    I very much enjoy watching sports, but never played beyond little league baseball because of my lack of size and athleticism.  

    What I want to know (and surely an attorney will ask), "Mr. Karas, if I told you fifty years ago that you'd risk serious complications later in life from repeated concussions if you continued playing football, would you have quit?"

    It's not that I don't have sympathy for these guys.  I do.  But I seriously doubt that even one of the plaintiffs would have given up their completely pampered jock lives at any stage of their career because of the risk of injury (physical or mental).

    The test of whether we're willing to stand up to the thugs that wrote voter suppression laws is this: Are you willing to hold hands with someone that needs hand holding in order to qualify to vote?

    by Richard Cranium on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:11:01 AM PDT

    •  Exactly! (0+ / 0-)
      But I seriously doubt that even one of the plaintiffs would have given up their completely pampered jock lives at any stage of their career because of the risk of injury (physical or mental).
      Give that choice to people today and many would take the risk!

      "Stupid is as stupid does" - The republican motto you can believe in as they live it daily!

      by Mannie on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:33:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many? ...Try "Every"... (0+ / 0-)

        Look at any of the tragic High School injuries that makes headlines.  Does a single player on either team that witnessed the tragedy quit the sport?

        And in those cases we are not talking about an abstract warning that doesn't seem like it could happen to me.

        Sports are no different than any other activity where injury or death occurs.  How many people quit driving after being in or witnessing a serious accident?  Drinking?  ditto.

        •  A friend of mine said his choices were college (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite, varro, 417els

          football or joining the Army to go to Vietnam. Both involved the chance of serious bodily injury.  He chose football, another friend chose the military.  Both suffered injuries.

          Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

          by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:40:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And the NFL recently increased dramatically their (0+ / 0-)

        retirement pay. A player has to be in the NFL for 5 years, can retire and do very well financially.  

        I wonder if the recent increase in retirement pay has something to do with trying to keep ex players quiet and happy?

        Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

        by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:39:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  For a few of my friends who played college ball (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      varro, 417els

      It was their only chance to go to college, on a full sports scholarship. It got them out of the inner city and ghetto  and enabled them to get an education and later to support their families. But it comes with a huge, huge price.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:38:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Question is... (0+ / 0-)

      ....if you're offered a chance to make more money that most people in your neighborhood could only dream of, in exchange for a possibility of injuries later in life, would you do it?

      I believe most of us would say yes, although there are safer sports than American football and hockey.

      Remember, even the minimum salaries in professional sports leagues are about 10 times the average American salary.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:15:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The NFL is not the only sport suffering lately (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is a rash in the NHL as well.

    Many times the issues in these sports is not one of bodies on bodies and that concussions just 'happen'. No it is a concerted effort from the league to keep the play exciting.

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:17:12 AM PDT

  •  When they moved on from protection to WEAPONRY (0+ / 0-)

    which is the only way to accurately describe the current helmet, they had to know what would happen.

    You have ends and strong safeties taught to dive into the knees of star running backs, you have tackles pounding against other 350 lbs behemoths, face to face, adrenaline driven, and almost unconscious to pain or suffering, unless they cause it in others.

    Turn it back into a soft shell balloon, with protection as the only, the sole, purpose. In fact, except for knee and ankle protection, take the hard shell  off of all of their armor.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:18:00 AM PDT

    •  I agree completely. Ban hard plastic. On shoulder (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, varro

      pads, helmets etc...  Keep the protection, but take out the weapons. Leather helmets backed by Kevlar or something else that protects the players.

      Taking away the shoulder pads is necessary too because they are often the weapons used to attack the head and knees.

      I am sure the NFL would hate it because football players wouldn't look like robots. In the end, it will save the game.

      100 years ago, so many people were dying playing football that President Roosevelt called a commission to make the rules safer. We need to do so again.

      •  I know some hockey players (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that say that the adoption of hard shoulder pads in that sport may have contributed to the rise of severe head/shoulder injuries; you're going to reconsider that hard hit if you're going to get just as hurt yourself and will develop a hit that does the same job but doesn't result in injury.

        Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in the era of YouTube

        by Cali Scribe on Sat May 05, 2012 at 02:53:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Spot on! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Defenders use their gear to maximize pain on the offense while minimizing (albeit short term) pain for themselves.  

      Plus think of what it would do to the game...  Football would instantly become a faster, more athletic sport.  I foresee it becoming all about passing.  High scoring contests would be the norm.  It would be exciting.

  •  Republished to the Wide World of Sports! (0+ / 0-)
      If you like sports talk, please follow The Wide World of Sports, the Daily Kos group for sports enthusiasts! If you'd like to write about sports, please shoot JamesGG or Edge PA a message and you'll be added.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Thu May 03, 2012 at 10:11:14 AM PDT

  •  Baseball (0+ / 0-)

    This problem is not just limited to football. As an Orioles fan I have become more aware of the intersection of sports and brain injuries as late. Our star second baseman, Brian Roberts, has not played a full season since 2009. It is still possible he might never play again. Granted, one of his concussions was clearly his fault. He accidently hit himself on the head with his baseball bat...

    •  All sports as my best friend was in track in (0+ / 0-)

      college and suffered injuries that still affect her adversely 20 years later.

      I have a childhood friend who suffered injuries as a college wrestler and another friend who is all banged up and worn out and always having surgery who played tennis.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:46:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It won't happen, too much money to be made (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I will say there are kids who only get to go to college on a football scholarship..several of my friends, for instance and many of sister's students as well.
      She teaches at a high school with a stellar, winning, state championship caliber football team.

      But I  would be happy if there were only college football and the NFL ceased to I love college sports.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:44:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe we shouldn't pay people.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...millions of dollars to literally butt heads together at high speed.

    •  or better protection for them and better equipment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, happy camper, 417els

      like in the world of race cars, they have really increased drivers' protection since the death of Dale Earnhardt and some deaths in Indy car racing.

      They need to continue to get better and safer equipment and be as pro active about this as the racing world is.

      Follow PA Keystone Liberals on Twitter: @KeystoneLibs

      by wishingwell on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:43:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The advances started before that (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        varro, Babsnc, Cali Scribe, 417els

        The HANS (Head And Neck Safety) Device had been created several years before by a neurologist and a race car driver who were brothers-in-law.  Earnhardt refused to wear one, when most other drivers had already made the shift.  Had he been wearing one, he would most likely have survived the crash in Daytona, 2001.  NASCAR waited three more races before they mandated the use of the HANS Device.  

        One of my husband's cousins was the reason for many of the advancements in Indy car.  When he retired in 1992, he had reached the pinnacle of the sport, but he also was in horrific pain from the myriad injuries he suffered in the crashes he had survived.  

        We watched the ARCA race at Talladega yesterday after work.  With about 30 laps left, one of the racers got turned sideways and went into the wall when one of the tires broke loose and then blew, setting off a barrel roll down the track.  He tumbled at least 7 times before he came to a stop on the off-side.  The safety crew had to pull the car back down onto the bottom (I can't say wheels, because they were gone) before they could pull him out of the car.  He walked away from the crash..

        It has taken injuries and deaths to make racing safer, but each time everyone has taken the lessons learned and worked to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

        It is going to take that same commitment to improve the safety in football.

  •  Couch Potatoes Who Watch Football (0+ / 0-)

    would be traumatized for life if they just got brought down by the average NFL tackle much less the jarring hits. Lets just bring back gladiators.

  •  When something is front-paged (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, 417els

    the timer on reccing comments really ought to be reset.  It kind of sucks when you can rec some comments but not others.

    Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

    by journeyman on Sat May 05, 2012 at 11:55:28 AM PDT

  •  The fastest way to make football safer is to . . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, phatcat cane

    . . . GET RID OF THE HELMETS!  They are used as weapons and give players a false sense of safety.  Without helmets there will be virtually NO brain injuries in football.  There may still be some dental and cosmetic injuries, but, no brain injuries.

  •  i find this kind of odd. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i distinctly remember being told, by the treating physician, about the dangers of concussions, after suffering one during a game in high school. this was in the fall of 1973. i'm just a tad hard pressed to believe that i somehow managed to get the only dr., in the free world, who recognized the dangers of concussions, even back then.

    this by no means gives the NFL a free pass, quite the contrary, it means the dangers were well known 40 years ago, which means they knew it too. however, it also means the players were probably aware of it as well, long before they entered the pro ranks. the players who make it to the pros tend to be, by definition, the hardest hitting; it separates them from the pack.

     i was teammates with two future NFL players, and played against a couple more. given the small number of actual professional football players, i think that's a pretty valid statistical sample. i know for a fact that all 4 of them suffered concussions during that year as well. i feel equally certain the dr's who treated them probably told them of the potential dangers involved. it didn't stop them (obviously) from continuing to play. nor, did it reduce the level of violence they brought with their game. based on what i'm reading, i suspect most of them simply chose to ignore the danger, in pursuit of their ambition to play professionally.

    which brings me to my ultimate point: where the NFL really fails is by not telling players that they can no longer play, even if the player is in the prime of their career, for their long-term health's sake. the dr's performing reqired physicals are violating their professional oath, by giving these players passing grades. if a flight surgeon did the same thing, resulting in a horrific plane crash, that dr. would, at minimum, probably lose their license, if not be charged criminally, along with being sued by the families of the victims. it's long past time the AMA stepped up to the plate, and put the pressure on the team physicians to do the right thing.

  •  Ray Easterling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cali Scribe

    Was the brother of a friend of my dad's. My dad is friends with his brother- they went to high school together and have been close for years. I met Ray this January when we went to Richmond for my grandmother's funeral. Pretty much every time we stay in Richmond we stay with Ray's brother (I won't identify him by name in this public post). After the funeral, we stayed through the weekend. As it happened, Ray's mother (and my dad's friend's mother) got very ill and died that weekend. We couldn't stay- had to be back at work.

    However, because his mother was sick, Ray came by the house. We talked about the lawsuit- well, he talked with my father, and my wife and I were there and talked with him as well. It was a little hard- he kept repeating himself and seemed frustrated at times by it. I had always thought professional athletes were overpaid, but after seeing Ray and the results of his career in football, it changed the way I thought about professional sports (at least that one). You couldn't pay me enough money to go through that. The thought of developing dementia when I'm in my 80s is already frightening- Ray started having symptoms much earlier than that.

    It makes me sad still. When I heard Ray had shot himself, it was hard but I understood. Whether or not he wanted his brain examined to prove the lawsuit wasn't the core of it. He didn't want to spend his final years in that dementia and decline, needing others to take care of him. I can't judge him for that, though it hurts to see my dad's friend having to cope with losing his mother and his brother within a few months.

    I don't have a real solution. People like football, people want to play football. Head injuries will happen- you can minimize the dramatic hits, but what about the hitting that goes on on the line? It seems an inevitable part of the game. The only thing I can say is that these families deserve to win their lawsuit, players should be well-informed about the risks, and they should have a fantastic pension and health insurance. If they're going to choose to sacrifice their later years for our entertainment, they and their families should at least be compensated for it.

    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul." --Ed Abbey

    by progreen on Sat May 05, 2012 at 02:56:49 PM PDT

  •  Doh! (0+ / 0-)

    I make millions of dollars in a violent game and no one informed me that the injuries I might collect as ready as those I pass on could have consequences? Those bastards!

    I want to sue!

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