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Eleven former NFL players have joined in concussion lawsuits against the NFL Players Association – NFLPA.   These players join the original plaintiffs in the lawsuits, which allege that the NFLPA was aware of concussion dangers to players for decades but ignored those risks and concealed them from NFL players.  Copies of the amended complaints can be found here and here.

Both the original and amended complaints refer to NFLPA executive director, DeMaurice Smith, telling congress under oath that “for far too long, our former players were left adrift [and] we were complicit in the lack of leadership….”

“We believe that the most important resource in the NFL is the players, and the most essential part of the player’s body is the brain.  Considering the millions of dollars received as dues from NFLPA members, the NFLPA did not do enough to protect its members from traumatic brain injury.”

– Kevin Regan, an attorney for the former NFL players

The lawsuits claim that “the NFLPA has had unparalleled access to and knowledge of data relating to the relationship between head impacts on football players and cognitive decline.  This access to and knowledge of data comes from the NFLPA’s awareness of the growing body of scientific literature on the subject, its own medical consultants, its own requested and commissioned studies on the subject, its participation in the Retirement Board of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (“Retirement Board”), and its participation in the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (the “MTBI Committee”).”

“Sadly, the players association knew for years about the medical science behind the dangers of the game, and in spite of their promises to do what was in the best interest of their members, they joined the league in hiding those dangers from everyone.  These former pro players should be proud of themselves for stepping up, because they’re standing up and saying that they would have behaved differently if the players association hadn’t been complicit with the league in hiding their full knowledge from them. If this action through the court system would have been available to me when I was just out of the league, I would have been alongside them as part of the lawsuit.”

– Jim Kearney, starting safety for the Super Bowl IV Champion Kansas City Chiefs

The claims alleged in the concussion lawsuits against the NFLPA are different and distinct from those alleged under other litigation pending against the League itself.  Players participating in the concussion litigation against the NFL are not precluded from bringing claims against the NFLPA and may participate in both cases.

All concussion lawsuits filed by former NFL players to date curiously omitted the group that was in the best position, in theory, to protect all players from the shell game pro football allegedly was playing regarding the long-term risks of head injuries.

That trend ended with the filing of a new lawsuit in a Missouri federal court.

NFLPA finally sued for concussions [Mike Florio at NBC Sports]

Florio, writing for NBC Sports, went on to note that “ammunition for attacking the NFLPA has existed from the moment the notion of suing over concussions first gained traction….  Indeed, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith admitted during testimony to Congress in 2009 that the union had a role in alleged resistance to efforts of doctors and others to wake football up to the perils of head injuries.”

Former NFL players joining the lawsuits against the NFLPA include:

  • Vaughn Booker (Chiefs)
  • Kevin Williams (Chiefs)
  • Tamarick Vanover (Chiefs)
  • Ron Dugans (Bengals)
  • Sheddrick Gurley (Buccaneers)
  • Chad Johnson (Broncos/Colts/Bengals)
  • Kendyll Pope (Colts)
  • Corey Sawyer (Bengals/Jets)
  • Shevin Smith (Buccaneers/Rams)
  • Tarlos Thomas (Texans)
  • Joe Horn (Chiefs/Saints/Falcons)

Additional information, copies of pleadings, answers to frequently asked questions, and contact information for attorneys fighting for these players can be found at

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© Copyright 2014 Brett A. Emison

Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.

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