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Craig Morton sues NFL for concussions

Morton Getty Images

More than three months ago, the NFL struck a comprehensive settlement with the thousands of former players who had sued the league for concealing the effects of head injuries.  The settlement, if approved, will apply to all retired players.

But every retired player has the right to opt out of the settlement.  Former Cowboys, Giants, and Broncos quarterback Craig Morton apparently will.

On Tuesday, Morton sued the NFL and NFL Properties in California federal court.  The 11-count, 373-paragraph complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained, alleges that the NFL knew or should have known the risks of repeated blows to the head.  The complaint specifically alleges that quarterbacks like Morton historically have been more exposed to head injuries, given that defensive players try to “sack” them.

At paragraph six, the complaint mentions that the term “sack” possibly traces to Morton himself, citing our article from June 2013 in which Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy explained that the late George Allen told his Redskins players, “[W]e’re going to take that Morton salt and pour him into a sack.’”

Some will say that Morton is now looking for a sack of money.  Others will say he’s pursuing justice.  Regardless, the proposed concussion settlement gives all former players the ability to pursue their own legal actions.

If enough of them opt out of the settlement and press forward against the league, someone eventually could force the NFL to do that which it surely hopes to avoid ever doing — disclosing what it knew and when it knew it about head injuries.

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13 Responses to “Craig Morton sues NFL for concussions”
  1. britishraven says: Dec 12, 2013 9:12 AM

    This guy is exactly why the rules are being changed today. You can all decide whether that’s for better or worse

  2. dan7858 says: Dec 12, 2013 9:30 AM

    It will be interesting to find out what an when the nfl knew about CTE. Morton played from 1965 to 1982, I doubt much was known then. Until proven otherwise it seems like a money-grab to me.

  3. mancave001 says: Dec 12, 2013 10:11 AM

    I always hate to take the side of the league, but in the case of concussions, I must. I simply don’t believe that the NFL “knew” anything close to what they know today. Even *doctors* didn’t know. Sure, they knew what a concussion was…but they didn’t even realize what it looked like on the field until at least the 1980′s. And for 20 years after that, they didn’t realize the potential long term effects.

    We’ve discussed it before. The entire culture of the league was different right through the 1990′s. For 50 years, guys were “getting their bell rung” and “jacked up.” They had guys spinning around deliriously after a play, and falling down on blooper reels. No one “knew.” There is certainly no evidence that the NFL engaged in some Big Tobacco-style cover-up.

    I’m all for helping the retired players, even by lawsuit if the NFL refuses. Lord knows the league should be doing more for them. But, things like this lawsuit really annoy me. You mean to tell me you didn’t know that playing an extremely violent game was dangerous to your health, but the NFL secretly did? They tricked you? Come on.

  4. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Dec 12, 2013 10:12 AM

    Many of us have played years of organized football. We’ve all experienced the occasional headache or forgetfulness. Where do we sign up for a free big pay day?

  5. tennesseeoilers says: Dec 12, 2013 10:13 AM

    Wow … isn’t he the first Super Bowl quarterback to do so?

  6. fleaman1381 says: Dec 12, 2013 10:19 AM

    While playing: “Injuries are a part of the game. You know what can happen. You just don’t think about that when you’re out there.”

    After retiring: “My head hurts. It’s the NFL’s fault for making me play a violent game I love. Give me money.”

  7. thestrategyexpert says: Dec 12, 2013 10:32 AM

    I still think some lawyer needs to set up a class action suit for all fans and take the league to court for all the torture and trauma that they force on the public with their ridiculous rules that they don’t even follow consistently.

    I want my $5 share damn it, and no I won’t settle for less!!

  8. footballhistorian says: Dec 12, 2013 10:57 AM

    I’d like to sue Craig Morton for throwing SB V…

  9. hawkforlife says: Dec 12, 2013 2:01 PM

    He’s concussed from banging his head against the wall watching the current Cowboys.

  10. remembertheafl says: Dec 12, 2013 5:18 PM

    ” You mean to tell me you didn’t know that playing an extremely violent game was dangerous to your health, but the NFL secretly did?” How does that prove a point? If the players knew, why didn’t the NFL know? If the NFL didn’t know, how could the players know?

    I was only 29 in 1965, but the NFL apparently “didn’t know” then what I knew . . . a blow to the head (which is what ‘concussion’ means) could cause ‘punch-drunk’ boxers and injure ANYONE who suffered one. Come on, did anyone ever ‘know’ that getting slammed in the head was GOOD for you?

    The Hippocratic Corpus, a collection of medical works from ancient Greece, mentions concussion. The effects of concussions were recognized in Persia in the year 900 (that’s nine hundred) AD. In the 16th century, the term “concussion” came into use, and symptoms such as confusion, lethargy, and memory problems were described.

    The NFL knew about but ignored the problem because they actually MARKETED the violence (reference those old “jacked up” references on ESPN Sportscenter, etc.), and would still be ignoring it if players like Morton didn’t have the guts to fight an organization (the NFL) that is more powerful than many small nations.

    The NFL makes $10 billion a year. With all its mealy-mouthed self-praise about how it helps youth “play healthy”, contributes to charities, etc.; if it had done the right thing, and paid old-time retirees a decent retirement with medical benefits (regardless of what they “earned”), paid athletes royalties for the millions the league profits from NFL Films and EA Sports, etc., I believe these lawsuits would never have happened.

    More power to Morton and other old-timers.

  11. moonbeam007 says: Dec 12, 2013 6:01 PM

    Morton had a long career & played a many years ago. The protections for these oldtimers wasn’t there back then & neither was the health coverage, the big endorsements or the big payrolls.

    Long term health effects would be substantial for any athlete not just Craig. They should be well covered for live in regard to their health; after all the NFL & owners make millions! They should have quality benefits for those who work(ed) for them.

    I know this man personally and he is one of the most genuine people I have ever known! He is not afraid to set a precedence for those who will follow. Kudos to you Craig and I hope you & your family are well!

  12. fdugrad says: Dec 12, 2013 8:21 PM

    I wonder if Morton’s legal team is angling for an out-of-court settlement for their client, hoping this will protect the NFL from disclosing their prior knowledge?

  13. osoviejo says: Dec 13, 2013 12:06 AM

    I’d like to sue Morton for continually mistaking his receivers’ feet for their hands.

    Too soon?

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