Last Thursday, an audio recording of coach Greg's Williams speech to players in the Saint's locker room was released. The recording confirmed the league's investigation that the Saint's program had incentivized injuring opponents. As a personal injury attorney, this got me thinking about the numerous civil lawsuits that will surely follow.
I just recently got a judgment of $740,000 for a client who was beat up by someone else. Unfortunately, he might only see half of it as the plaintiff doesn't have enough money to cover the whole judgment. However, many of the players and coaches in the National Football League have deep pockets and should be able to cover the money judgments or settlements reached. Moreover, what about the NFL itself? They absolutely have the deep pockets. Perhaps they should have cracked down on the bounty system years ago to prevent injuries and protect its players.
Furthermore, many believe that the NFL actually hid from its players some of the real dangers of one of the most common injuries, concussions. Did the NFL hide the long-term neurological dangers of playing NFL football? Did it train its players to tackle with their heads, knowing that players would then become more susceptible to neurological injury? The NFL is now facing a class action lawsuit for concussions and other head injuries. It is alleged that the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the serious dangers posed by concussions. However, they chose not to adequately warn players until 2010. In fact, it is alleged that the NFL purposefully hid the underlying dangers by sponsoring internal biased studies, while downplaying the seriousness of concussions and long-term brain injury.
What exactly is a concussion? A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination.
Postconcussive Syndrome is when you do not function as well as you did prior to the concussion. These symptoms include:
* Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or remembering.
* Blurry vision.
* Changes or interruptions in your sleep patterns
* Personality changes, unexplainable anxiety
* Lack of interest
* Changes in your sex drive.
* Dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness
While the NFL has criticized different studies on concussions, the studies are persuasive. For example, a study was performed on three NFL players who suffered multiple concussions over their career. The study found that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy triggered by numerous concussions while playing in the NFL, partially caused the deaths of these three players. A few years later another study was done of 2 more NFL players and showed similar results. Another study focused on 2552 retired professional football players and showed that those players with three or more concussions had a five-fold prevalence of mild cognitive impairment diagnosis and a three-fold prevalence of significant memory problems.
In 2009, the NFL funded a study of 1,063 retired NFL players. The results showed that NFL players suffer from dementia at higher rates than the general population. For younger retirees, ages 30-49, the rate was 19 times that of the general population and 6.1% of retired NFL players age 50 and above reported being diagnosed with dementia. Alzheimer's disease and other memory related illnesses, compared to 1.2% for all comparable aged U.S. men. The NFL then questioned the reliability of this study.
As a personal injury lawyer, these injuries and the likely courtroom drama to follow are extremely interesting.