Is there a link between the suicides of ex-NFL players and permanent brain injuries caused from hits during the game? The recent lawsuits filed against the National Football League think so.
Last week, in a Philadelphia federal court, 81 lawsuits against the NFL were consolidated into one “mega” lawsuit. This consolidated lawsuit has accused the NFL of hiding information that showed a link between repeated head trauma from hits on the field and long-term brain injuries. The lawsuit alleges that permanent brain damage, such as dementia and early-on set Alzheimer’s, has occurred in a number of former professional football players – and the NFL knew permanent brain injuries could result, yet failed to protect the players accordingly.
At least three former players who have committed suicide in the last year – Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling – were believed to have suffered brain damage from their years in the game, and ended their lives not wanting to suffer from their neurological injuries for the remainder of their lives. In the case of Duerson, the player’s surviving family members have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NFL. Easterling’s widow has also filed suit, believing that the NFL could have done more to protect her husband.
The lawsuits against the NFL allege that the league has continued to hide medical information that proves permanent brain injury can occur from repetitive hits because the NFL makes money off of “ferocious collisions.” The complaint notes that the NFL not only fined players for “illegal and dangerous hits” in 2010, but it went on to sell photos of those same hits online. The NFL also profits from such hits through the NFL Films division.
The consolidated case is still in the early stages: In re National Football Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, 12-md-02323, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Former NFL Players Consolidate Head-Injury Claims Against League,” 6/7/12.