As over 110 million Americans watched the Super Bowl game last weekend, they probably weren't too concerned with the legal trouble currently facing the National Football League (NFL). A group of plaintiff's lawyers is bringing suit against the NFL on behalf former players. The 4,000 former players and their wives claim that the NFL covered up the dangers of brain injuries and the potentially life-changing implications of the injuries.
An Ohio-based company might also be part of the fallout. Riddell is the NFL's official helmet producer. The lawsuit also alleges that the gear, helmets specifically, fail to adequately protect the players. The Ohio company denies these claims and stands by the quality of its helmets. The company was at the forefront of the plastic-shelled helmet trend. Even if the company is not found liable in the current lawsuit it may still face other legal trouble due marketing statements, which said the helmets actually reduced the chances of concussions.
Riddell and the NFL are both accused of wrongful death in case filed on behalf of a former NFL linebacker. John Seau, 43, committed suicide last year and doctors later discovered that he suffered from a neurodegenerative brain disease that may have been the result of head injuries during his 20-year football career.
Regardless of the outcome of the current litigation, the NFL may be forced to make some big changes in the way it runs the league. The big hits are obviously dangerous but if science can prove that the smaller, repetitive hits that players sustain over the course of a career increase the chance for brain disease, then the league may slowly loose it's following.
It is scary to think that these hits can lead to brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Because these injuries may have few, or very limited symptoms, many times the injuries go undiagnosed until it is too late. Although, victims and family members can bring a lawsuit against the responsible parties, the lawsuit cannot return health or bring back a loved one.
Source: BusinessWeek, "Will Brain Injury Lawsuits Doom or Save the NFL," Paul M. Barrett, Jan. 31, 2013