We recently wrote about a number of concussion lawsuits that were filed in the past two months or so by ex-players against the National Football League. Well, last Friday The New York Times did a big Page One round-up story on all the litigation of this kind pending against the NFL. Apparently, more than a dozen suits have been filed against the league since July.
The Times put the whole mess in perspective in the story’s headline: “For NFL, Concussion Suits May Be Test For Sport Itself.”
The litigation represents more than 120 retired players and their spouses. And as The Times frames it, the NFL now faces the prospect of having these players taking the witness stand to tell juries about the league’s past practice regarding head injuries, and to talk about the cognitive issues they are now blaming on their past concussions.
The lawsuits in many cases charge that the NFL concealed, or ignored, data about the long-term impact of repeated hits to the head.
As reporter Ken Belson wrote, “Taken together, the suits filed in courts across the country amount to a multifront legal challenge to the league and to the game itself.”
As he notes, sympathetic juries, listening to the testimony of retired players such as Jim McMahon and Jamal Lewis, could come in with verdicts awarding millions of dollars to these retired athletes.
As The Times points out, retired gridiron stars who were once in their physical and mental prime, yet are now suffering from early-onset dementia and brain disease, are bound to illicit feelings from jurors. And we’d guess that the feelings would not be about how great a job the NFL did to protect its gladiators.
Needless to say, such trials would no doubt result in a flood of bad publicity for the NFL, and its years of denial, denial that repeated concussions take a long-term toll on the brain.
But The Times notes that the players may not have a cake walk. One federal judge has already ruled that concussion claims raised by retired players are matters for collective bargaining, not trial.
The NFL, which of course denies the charges raised in the pending lawsuits, will undoubtedly try to get the litigation dismissed. And even if the cases go to trial, the burden will be on the players to prove that their dementia or memory loss or anger-management issues were the direct result of injuries they sustained during their pro careers.
Those are just some of the legal issues raised in article by The Times. We recommend you read the whole story to find out more about the intricacies of these lawsuits.
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