Home > Causes of dementia, Celebrities, Head injury, Types of dementia, Uncategorized > Football Players’ Families Sue NFL Due to Concerns Over CTE

Football Players’ Families Sue NFL Due to Concerns Over CTE

(This is a follow-up to a story I reported earlier, about the discovery that professional football player Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, was related to head injuries incurred during his playing career.  See Another NFL Death Attributed to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy on this site.)

Earlier this month, the National Institute of Health released the results of an autopsy on the brain of former U.S. professional football player Junior Seau, which showed that he had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (most likely related to repeated head injuries and concussions).  One of the symptoms characteristic of CTE is depression, and this was determined to be a significant factor in Seau’s suicide last year  from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  Now, Seau’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against the National Football League, claiming that Seau was not sufficiently protected from injury during his playing career.

Read the actual Seau lawsuit here.

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego, in California Superior Court, by Seau’s four children through their guardian, Seau’s former wife.  It names helmet maker Riddell Inc. as a co-defendant, and alleges that there was negligence in the design and testing of the helmets, and that they were unsafe.

In a statement, Seau’s family stated that he expected to suffer injuries while playing football.  However, neither he nor his family ever imagined that he would develop a debilitating brain disease which would lead to his death at the age of 43.  They hope that this lawsuit will send a message that the NFL needs to provide better care for its former players, acknowledge long years of deception with regards to head injuries and player safety, and work toward making the game safer for current and future players.

The lawsuit alleges that the NFL has, for decades, been aware of the dangers and risks of repetitive traumatic brain injuries, but has “deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information from players, including Junior Seau.”  The suit goes on to state that “Although the NFL voluntarily assumed its role as the unilateral guardian of players safety, the NFL has exacerbated the health risk to players by promoting the game’s violence and lauding players for returning to play despite being rendered unconscious and/or disoriented due to their exposure to sub-concussion and concussive forces.”

During his NFL career, Seau suffered numerous sub-concussive and concussive blows directly to his head, according to the suit, at times so severe that he received facial lacerations and played through pain and injuries during a career lasting 20 years.  Reported symptoms included dizziness during and after playing, dizziness on turning his head, and becoming dazed after being hit during games.  (However, Seau was never officially listed as suffering from a concussion.)  The suit goes on to state that Seau would typically sit on the sidelines for a time, before returning to the game, and alleges that by returning to play while still symptomatic he was exposed to increased injury.  It is also claimed that Seau “reasonably relied on the NFL’s fraudulent concealment and affirmative misrepresentation regarding the danger.”

The estate of former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson filed a similar suit against the NFL last February in Cook County, Ill.  In 2011, Duerson likewise died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest at the age of 50.  Prior to his death, Duerson had requested that his brain be donated for research, due to concerns that “there’s something going on.”  Subsequent study by researchers in Boston identified the presence of CTE.  Duerson’s suit has since been linked to a master complaint ,filed in Philadelphia, of about 190 suits by 4,000 NFL players.

Among those participating in the Philadelphia-based suit include Alex Karras.  Although well-known for his acting, in movies such as “Blazing Saddles” and the TV sitcom “Webster,” Karras was also named three times as All-Pro defensive tackle while playing for the Detroit Lions in the 1960s.  In a telephone interview, Karras’s wife Susan Clark reported that he had for years suffered headaches and dizziness, as well as other symptoms associated with concussions.  She stated that Karras was formally diagnosed with dementia about seven years ago, but had been displaying symptoms for about twelve years.  (While Karras was still living when the suit was originally filed, he later died on 10/10/12.)

Original stories may be found here and here.

  1. Shirley Sigmund
    February 27, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Hi Jami,
    How are you? I hope you are well and that the chemotherapy you had begun back in Nov. 2012 has been completed and that you are recovering well. I look forward to reading your posts whenver you are feeling energetic enough to do so.

    Take care of yourself,

    Shirley Sigmund, M.A. CCC-SLP

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