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More than 2,000 former NFL football players have filed a brain injury class action lawsuit against the NFL alleging the league concealed information linking football-related injuries to long term brain damage.  The former players claim that the “NFL exacerbated the health risk by promoting the game’s violence” and “deliberately and fraudulently” misinformed the players about the connection between long-term brain injury and concussions.  The NFL denies the claims.

Some speculate that this lawsuit could change football forever.  Art Monk, Jim McMahon and Mark Rypien are among players who have sued not only the NFL but “the entire professional football culture.”

USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan said, “[i]t’s American’s favorite sport and its favorite athletes and now we’re hearing about the dark side. It really hits like a ton of bricks.”

In the wake of the suicides of several players–blamed on brain damage–concussions have become one of football’s major issues.  One athlete, Dave Duerson, formerly of the Chicago Bears, shot himself in the chest last year and requested that his brain be used for research.  Kevin Turner, retired running back for the Philadelphia Eagles, is one of the plaintiffs in the new suit.  He can recall two concussions that he sustained during his career.  Turner has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, which he believes is a result of long-term brain injury from his years in football.

Mary Ann Easterling, widow of Ray Easterling of the Atlanta Falcons, blames her husband’s dementia and subsequent suicide on “improperly managed” head injuries sustained during his football career. Mrs. Easterling said families of players should be more informed and the NFL should take a larger role in assisting players. “What I want to see is that the information would be out there, more widely disseminated so families won’t be in the dark about the symptoms they’re seeing. I’d also like to see the NFL take care of the players that do have symptoms or could possibly have symptoms.”

The NFL has made recent efforts to mitigate the potential brain injury that can arise from playing football.  In 2010, the NFL formed the Head, Neck and Spine Committee, which replaced the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee.  Both Committees were designed to help protect football players. In addition, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell implemented new rules designed to protect players from direct hits to the head. Players who violate the rules have been punished with stiffer penalties and suspensions.

For more information, contact the Ohio brain injury lawyers at Clark, Perdue & List.

Source: ABC News, “Former NFL Players File Lawsuit Against League on Concussions,”  Jim Avila, June 7, 2012.