Several ex-National Football League players have filed a lawsuit against the league they played in, arguing that brain injuries, such as concussions, that they sustained while playing have left them with chronic medical problems.
A former player for Ohio's Cleveland Browns filed the personal injury lawsuit with three other players, alleging the NFL knew about the risks the players faced, but did nothing with the information. In fact, the players say the NFL was aware of the dangerous side effects of severe concussions in the 1920s, but did not release the information until 2010.
The lawsuit accuses the NFL of doing "everything in its power to hide the issue and mislead players" about the inherent danger of concussions. The players contend that at the time they were playing, NFL policy dictated that players who suffered concussions be sent back into action as quickly as possible. In contrast, other professional sports organizations would bench an athlete for several games or even entire seasons after a concussion. The plaintiffs have requested unspecified damages.
Several other similar lawsuits have been filed in recent months, all accusing the NFL of failing to properly protect its players from concussions and the chronic medical conditions with which they are often associated.
The NFL has denied the allegations, saying in a statement that there is "no merit" to the claims the league tried to intentionally mislead anyone. The NFL argues that it has long concentrated on the safety of its players. In late 2011, the NFL instructed officials to be alert for concussion-like symptoms, a move that was likely prompted by a player who sustained a head injury and later suffered a seizure.
Many more players would likely be able to join the lawsuit if it is found that the league did withhold information about brain injuries from players, much the same way tobacco companies settled years ago for failing to disclose the dangers of smoking.
Source: CBS News, "Ex-NFL players sue league over brain injuries," Dec. 22, 2011