In the world of professional sports, it’s not hard for current athletes to look at retired veterans and see the price that one pays for years or decades of concussion damage. Nervous system disorders, seizures, and memory loss are all associated with repeated trauma to the head resulting in concussion. Two sports where this injury occurs most frequently are boxing and football. A lawsuit recently filed by former professional football players has shed some light on the subject with claims that the league has hidden the risks of concussions to players. Lawyers representing the NFL have claimed that the case does not belong in civil court. But attorneys for the NFL players maintain that the contracts that exist between players and their teams never covered fraud and misrepresentation undertaken by the NFL.
At the heart of the case are player accusations that the NFL has engaged in fraud and deception on the effects of concussion. Further accusations claim that the league went so far as to glorify the violence of the sport at the risk of the players themselves. While the NFL maintains that they are in no way responsible for any perception that the players have had regarding the serious long term damage that concussions cause, recent studies into retired athletes show some alarming statistics:
With the alarming news of concussion rates in both professional and college level football also comes hope. The lawsuit being pressed by these former players underlines the importance of clarity between the teams and the players about the risks involved in the sport, but it also illustrates the need for active and well researched improvements that can be made in equipment, training and the game itself.
Legally speaking, it is important to remember that the NFL is no different from any other employer. Regardless of the job, if there is found to be both a link to substantial injury trends and information withheld from employees, then there may be some liability involved. If the lawsuit proves successful, it could pave the way toward safer practices both within the NFL, college and high school teams. In the meantime, both sides are waiting for a ruling by U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody as to whether the case can be tried in court, or is subject to arbitration.