Seven former players have sued the NFL in Philadelphia over the league’s handling of concussion-related injuries, the first potential class-action lawsuit of its kind.
The players accuse the league of training players to lead with their heads, failing to properly treat them for concussions and trying to conceal any links between football and brain injuries.
The plaintiffs include two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon, who has said he played through five concussions but now frequently walks around “in a daze.”
The suit accuses the NFL of negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported. The suit, filed Wednesday, seeks medical monitoring along with funds to pay for the care of injured players.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had not yet seen the lawsuit but would vigorously contest any such claims.
Players’ lawyer Larry Coben of Philadelphia said one client may soon lose his home because of his health-related financial problems.
“The big issue, for us, is they were told for decades to lead with their heads,” Coben told The Associated Press. “The NFL would never admit that there’s any correlation (to later health problems).”
Seventy-five retired players sued the NFL last month in Los Angeles, alleging the league knew since the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions, but concealed them from players, coaches, trainers and the public until June 2010. That suit also names helmet-maker Riddell, the NFL’s official helmet supplier, as a defendant.
The federal suit filed in Philadelphia, though, is the first to seek class-action status and potentially include anyone who had played in the league and suffered a concussion or head injury.
“Our goal is much larger, perhaps more daunting,” said Coben, who has previously sued over brain injuries incurred in high school football.
“We have to ultimately determine how many people are in the (legal) classes. How many people from the `70s are experiencing this, how many people from the `80s, from the `90s? And then, what are the losses?”
The other plaintiffs include Ray Easterling, a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1970s, and his wife Mary Ann; Wayne Radloff, an offensive lineman for the Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in the late 1980s, and his wife Garland; and Gerry Feehery, a former Philadelphia center who played in the league from 1985 to 1989.
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