In a Miami courtroom today, a panel of federal judges are scheduled to hear arguments in a case with implications for athletes here in Oregon suffering from traumatic brain injuries. According to the Associated Press, the judges are “considering whether to consolidate lawsuits filed around the country by more than 300 former NFL players seeking damages for concussions they suffered.” The list of defendants includes some players, such as Tony Dorsett and Jim McMahon, who were once among the game’s biggest stars.
With the NFL fully engaged in the annual hype surrounding the Super Bowl the timing is, perhaps, unfortunate for the league. It serves, however, as an important reminder of risks of the game, even as it seems likely to revive the bad publicity the league has received for what some former players, attorneys and doctors describe as its lack of attention to long-term mental health issues. Granted the example that professional players set for other football players, and aspiring players, at every level the implications of the suit are significant. The growing public realization here in Oregon and elsewhere of the seriousness of traumatic brain injuries is surely not something the NFL wants to remind fans of in the run up to February 5’s clash between the Giants and the Patriots.
As ESPN notes, the number of players filing or joining traumatic brain injury suits has grown rapidly in recent months. The suits have been filed across the country, and today’s hearing in Miami deals with the narrow legal issue of whether all of these cases should be consolidated and go forward as a single legal action. The NFL denies charges that it failed to protect the players both during and after their careers. The players counter with painful personal stories all too familiar to any Oregon brain injury victim or their family: memory loss and more serious conditions including, as reported by ESPN, “headaches, dizziness and dementia.”
Any Oregon brain and spinal cord injury lawyer knows all too well how serious such injuries can be. The toll taken by Oregon brain injuries extends far beyond the victims and their immediate families. By publicizing the dangers inherent in the game, these retired football players are doing parents and young people throughout the country a service. Making the game safer, particularly for children and teens, must be a priority for us all.
AP via the Miami Herald: US panel mulls merge of NFL concussion suits