Yet another lawsuit regarding concussions was filed against the NFL in Atlanta on Thursday, carrying the names of more than 100 former players, including former Falcons Jamal Anderson and O.J. Santiago, among others.
These players join more than 1,500 others who allege that the league intentionally deceived players as to the dangers of concussions, and knowingly did not take steps to protect players from head injuries.
In the wake of the New Orleans bounty program scandal and the NFL’s continued attempts to crack down on illegal hits, the players’ lawsuit appears to be gaining momentum. The league continues to deny misleading players in any fashion, and maintains that the safety of the players is a priority. The NFL has taken steps in recent years to increase the amount of caution used when a player is believed to have suffered a head injury. This includes more vigorous testing both on the field immediately after the injury, and before a player can be cleared to play in the next game.
The players’ claims are backed by scientific studies, which link concussions to a degenerative brain disease that produces symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s. The disease, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), can only be caused by repeated blows to the head, and unfortunately can only be diagnosed post-mortem. The suit claims that a dozen cases of CTE have been diagnosed in dead NFL players.
However, even with evidence of long-term brain trauma as a result of a professional career, the players may struggle to prove that the NFL intentionally withheld knowledge of the long-term dangers. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear that player safety is a priority under his regime, but the players from ages past have been living with the results of a rougher time in the league.