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How will NFL Brain Injury Claims Play Out

The National Football League has become increasingly lucrative in business terms. After clearing up last year’s labor predicament, the NFL has signed to new TV contracts that will harvest the league approximately $50 billion by 2022.

All of this monetary success could possibly be at risk now that roughly 2,000 retired NFL players condensed 80 lawsuits into one massive action on June 7th 2012, in Pennsylvania’s federal court. The rough physical contact of the game is obvious, however, attorneys for athletes such as Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and the now deceased Reggie White, believe that the NFL’s actions regarding to the epidemic of traumatic brain injuries (TBI)  and victims of TBI, has been “a campaign of deceit and deception, actively concealing the risks players faced from repetitive impacts.” The former NFL players are even threatening to release official league documents that prove health risks were deliberately hidden or ignored.

Some legal experts feel that the allegations filed by the retired players are very similar to the claims brought forth by smokers battling Big Tobacco in the 1990’s. Secret or hidden memos brought to light showed that the tobacco companies willingly downplayed the negative health effects of smoking cigarettes. “It’s reasonable to assume that players knew of some risks of playing, but the question is whether there’s any knowledge particular to the NFL that they were withholding,” states Marc Edelman, a noted sports law professor at Fordham University.

Even if the former players are able to obtain evidence that the NFL’s Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, established in 1994 to research and study the effects of concussions, knew something it didn’t disclose that does not necessarily mean players will be successful in their claims.

“The issue of causation will be huge,” explains Michael McCann, a sports law professor at Vermont Law School. “These players suffered hits at young ages, in high school and in college, before getting to the NFL. Much of the damage may have occurred then, so the question will be why the NFL should be held accountable.”

Still, reports of bodily injury incidents have increased heavily in the past few years.  Studies reveal that more than 60% of NFL players have suffered from a concussion at some point during their career. Retired football players are 3 times more likely to experience signs of depression than the general population, and about 19 more times likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Last month, when former San Diego Chargers linebacker Juniour Seau took his own life, he became the third retired NFL star player to commit suicide within a 15 month time span. (Seau shot himself in the upper chest, which allowed for his brain to be donated for study) The other two deceased players, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, were believed to have been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition correlating with head trauma.

Analyst Paul Anderson, who has been publishing daily updates and developments on NFLconcussionlitigation.com, believes that damages could surpass $1.5 billion, which was the amount initially requested by retired players to be placed in a medical fund. “Then you include past medical expenses, legal fees and punitive damages, and we could be close to $2 billion,” Anderson predicts. Lawyers feel that the NFL’s broadcasting partners, who have collected about $3 billion in football-related ad revenue in 2011, would most likely avoid any liability relating to the matter.

Some observers feel the issue is not that simple. They are even suggesting theories about the possible demise of the entire sport. A downfall of the NFL industry would create chaos and disaster among media companies. Remember that DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket made roughly $1.4 billion just on subscriptions and ad revenue alone in 2011. It is estimated that 11% of DirecTV’s clientele is subscribed to NFL Sunday Ticket.

The extreme predictions mentioned above are very premature. If the case is not dismissed by a judge in a decision expected to come within the next nine months, the league has the necessary funds needed to settle the claims made against them. McCann suggests a simple way to prevent legal claims made by future athletes in America’s beloved TV pastime: “Make players sign waivers.”

It is extremely important to consult with a qualified Florida traumatic brain injury attorney if you, or a loved one, have sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as the result of another’s negligence. Please contact: [email protected] or call Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at: (727) 451-6900. The brain injury attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are available for a free consultation and case evaluation.