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2,000 players unite in suing NFL over head injuries

By Mallory Simon, CNN
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Thu June 7, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The lawsuit claims the NFL failed to deal with neurological risks
  • The complaint has been filed in Philadelphia
  • It unites dozens of pending suits against the NFL

(CNN) -- A unified lawsuit on behalf of more than 2,000 National Football League players has been filed against the league in federal court, alleging that the NFL failed to acknowledge and address neurological risks associated with the sport and then deliberately failed to tell players about the risks they faced, according to attorneys representing former players.

The complaint, filed in federal court in Philadelphia, unites the more than 80 pending lawsuits filed against the NFL.

"I firmly believe the NFL could have and should have done more to protect Ray. That's why I am seeking to hold the NFL accountable," said Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April after years with dementia. "Having lived through Ray's struggle, I desperately hope and pray others can be spared the pain and suffering we have endured -- and still endure every day."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy acknowledged the filing but added that there was nothing new to the claim other than that it merges them all.

"Our legal team will review today's filing that is intended to consolidate plaintiffs' existing claims into one 'master' complaint," he said. "The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."

However, many NFL players have claimed that they suffer from a variety of injuries because of concussions without really knowing the severity of how badly they could be hurt playing the game.

"The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions," said Kevin Turner, a former running back for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. "The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have."

Lawyers representing the players cited "dementia, depression, reduced cognitive ability, sleeplessness, early-onset Alzheimer's, and a debilitating and latent disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy" as some of the specific injuries caused by head trauma in the NFL.

"Instead of protecting the health of its players, the NFL's response to this epidemic of brain injuries was to engage in a campaign of deceit and deception, actively concealing the risks players faced from repetitive impacts," said Christopher Seeger and Sol Weiss, co-lead counsels for the former players. "This case is about providing security and care to former NFL players who have suffered these devastating neurologic injuries, and making the game safer for generations to come."

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