NFL & NCAA Concussions
The NFL Concussion Litigation seeks to recover damages for injuries sustained by the Plaintiffs as the direct and proximate result of the wrongful conduct of the Defendants in connection with the failure to take effective action to protect players and/or failure to inform players of the true risks associated with concussions, brain injury, and brain trauma.
The NFL, or the “League,” is America’s most successful and popular sports league. With 32 member teams, the League is a multi-billion dollar business. With so much money at stake, the NFL is and always has been eager to avoid negative publicity and protect the product on the field. As a result, the NFL regulates just about everything as it pertains to its’ member teams. The NFL regulates league policies, player appearance, marketing, and safety, among other items.
Football is unquestionably a tough, aggressive, physically demanding sport. Injuries are common. As such, it is vital to the safety of the players that the NFL act reasonably, through research, studies, and other means, to identify the risks of serious injury associated with playing professional football; to keep the teams and players informed of the risks that they identify; and to take reasonable steps based upon their findings to protect their players. Aware of this responsibility, the NFL, through its own initiative, created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (“MTBI”) Committee in I 994 to research and presumably look to ameliorate what was already a tremendous problem in the league – – concussions.
Concussions, Brain Injury, and Brain Trauma
The rash of head injuries has been noted in a wide variety of news articles and television segments, and was addressed recently by the League in an announcement that it would clamp down on illegal blows to the head. But, as previously alluded to, this spate of head injuries is not a new problem at all. For decades, the League’s players have been plagued by the devastating effects of concussions.
Despite overwhelming medical evidence that on field concussions led directly to brain injuries and frequently had tragic repercussions for retired players, the NFL not only failed to take effective action in an attempt to protect players from suffering a similar fate, but reprehensibly failed to inform players of the true risks associated with concussions, instead misrepresenting and/or concealing medical evidence on the issue through its “hand-picked” committee of unqualified physicians who were purportedly researching same. While athletes in other professional sports who had suffered concussions were being effectively “shut down” for a long period of time or full seasons, NFL protocol was to return players who had suffered a concussion that very game.
Simply put, the NFL has not taken an issue that requires the utmost attention very seriously. Wanting their players on the field instead of training tables, and in an attempt to protect a multi-billion dollar business, the NFL has purposefully attempted to obfuscate the issue and has repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury to the disgust of Congress, which has blasted the NFL’s handling of the issue on multiple occasions, and expert neurologists who know the score. The unfortunate reality is that in the 17 years since its formation, the MTBI has served as nothing short of a roadblock to any real attempt to protect NFL players from concussions and resultant brain injury. In fact, the committee’s concealment and misrepresentation of relevant medical and study information over the years has caused an increased risk oflife-threatening injury to players who were being kept in the dark.
At the end of the day, the NFL has not only failed to satisfy its duty to take the reasonable steps necessary to protect players from devastating head injuries, they have done everything in their power to hide the issue and mislead the players conceming the risks associated with concussions.