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NFLPA finally sued for concussions

Mawae Getty Images

All concussion lawsuits filed by former NFL players to date curiously omitted the group that was in the best position, in theory, to protect all players from the shell game pro football allegedly was playing regarding the long-term risks of head injuries.

That trend has ended with the filing of a new lawsuit in a Missouri federal court.

The civil complaint, filed by Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks, targets the NFLPA and several past presidents, including Trace Armstrong, Troy Vincent (now the NFL’s executive V.P. of football operations), and Kevin Mawae (pictured).

“It erroneously alleges that the NFLPA knowingly and fraudulently concealed from players the risks of head injuries players faced by playing in NFL games and practices over the last several decades,” the NFLPA said in a statement.  “This lawsuit has no merit and we will defend our union and our past Presidents.”

While there’s a chance that the lawsuit, which we have yet to obtain, actually has no merit, ammunition for attacking the NFLPA has existed from the moment the notion of suing over concussions first gained traction with a segment of the country’s population of lawyers.  Indeed, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith admitted during testimony to Congress in 2009 that the union had a role in the alleged resistance to efforts of doctors and others to wake football up to the perils of head injuries.

“There is simply no justification for the NFL to have previously ignored or discredited Dr. [Bennet] Omalu and others with relevant, valid research,” Smith said at the time.  “For far too long, our former players were left adrift; as I emphasized at the last hearing, we were complicit in the lack of leadership and accountability, but that ends now.  I am here again to make it clear that our commitment is unwavering.”

At some point in the infancy of the concussion litigation cottage industry, attorneys made a strategic decision to give the union a pass.  But now that the NFL is settling its claims against the former players, at least one law firm sees no reason to continue to ignore the possibility that the NFLPA knew or should have known some of the same things the NFL knew or should have known.

Much of the meat of the concussion lawsuits comes from the alleged efforts of the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, created in 1994, to conceal and/or to soft-pedal the medicine and science of concussions for nearly a generation.  The NFLPA had a seat at the table of the MBTI Committee, which arguably imposed a duty on the NFLPA to disclose the truth, whatever it may have been, to the players.

One of the most glaring flaws contained in League of Denial, that Fainaru-Wada fatwa on football, came from the complete and total omission of the NFL Players Association as having responsibility for the injuries suffered by its members.  After two-plus years of lawsuits, someone finally is taking aim at the NFLPA.  Whether the effort hits the target will be determined in the coming months and, possibly, years.

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19 Responses to “NFLPA finally sued for concussions”
  1. weepingjebus says: Jul 18, 2014 3:05 PM

    That rustling sound you just heard is 50 lawyers getting their wings (which are made out of $100s).

  2. brokebackbrees says: Jul 18, 2014 3:06 PM

    Sean Peyton just cringed a bit. Nothing relevant since bounty program.

  3. thepftpoet says: Jul 18, 2014 3:08 PM

    The Minnesota Vikings don’t get concussions.

    We fight through the pain and win.

    It’s our legacy.

  4. buffaloisadumpsterandtheirfansaremorons says: Jul 18, 2014 3:11 PM

    Another lawsuit that will go nowhere.

  5. doctorrustbelt says: Jul 18, 2014 3:11 PM

    The NFL is monitoring this situation.

  6. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 18, 2014 3:18 PM

    Why shouldn’t the NFLPA have known about these particular dangers (leave other dangers for other dockets of debates)?

    They have a duty to represent the interests of the players, and they should have had money and resources to figure that out. If they didn’t use that money to learn more about the dangers of the game that their members were subject to, then that was their choice to line other peoples’ pockets with the money instead. Go find that money and reclaim it and with interest. If you can’t get the money then just work out a payment plan to settle the debt over time.

    NFPLA – About Us page:

    …”Confirm our willingness to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of our membership”

    “whatever” is apparently a very limited term.

    Oh they also do this:

    “Pay homage to our predecessors for their courage, sacrifice, and vision”

    Oh please elaborate more about “their sacrifice”.

    And don’t forget the climactic ending:

    “To preserve our gains…”

    I suppose defending themselves against lawsuits is just part of the planned program, but how come the “betterment of our membership” got deleted from the code?

  7. ninetysixer says: Jul 18, 2014 3:21 PM

    ah yes, the attorneys for the NFLPA and the former players are about to get paid, the concussed….they will get pennies

  8. norcalseahawkfan says: Jul 18, 2014 3:28 PM

    The Minnesota Vikings don’t get concussions.

    We fight through the pain and win.

    It’s our legacy.
    ———————————————————
    Viking players don’t play hard enough to get hurt until they get traded to Seattle

  9. jimmyt says: Jul 18, 2014 3:31 PM

    Wow. Who knew that large powerful men bashing their heads together wearing hard helmets at high rates of speed would cause concussions or that concussions were not good for you?

  10. doctorrustbelt says: Jul 18, 2014 3:34 PM

    When forced to choose my favorite dictator of the Axis Powers… I choose war criminal benito mussolini.

    Such is my dilemma when choosing sides between the NFL and NFLPA.

  11. dkrause71 says: Jul 18, 2014 3:37 PM

    The Minnesota Vikings don’t get concussions.

    We fight through the pain and win.

    It’s our legacy.

    —————————–
    That the Vikings do not realize they get concussions does explain why they have sucked most of the last 30 years.

  12. purplepillager says: Jul 18, 2014 3:39 PM

    @PftPoet – Please admit you’re a Packer fan and stop making Viking fans look bad.

    BTW – Christian Ballard was a Viking.

  13. dethsupport says: Jul 18, 2014 3:44 PM

    Ballard quit on his team and is now sue happy. He didn’t play long enough to justify this.

  14. seatownballers says: Jul 18, 2014 3:44 PM

    sterling7 says:Jul 11, 2014 7:34 PM

    As a Viking 4life since 1968-We the Viking fandom do not, have never and never will recognize the embarrassment that is “thepftpoet”!

    Ouch. That one hurts

  15. shatho1 says: Jul 18, 2014 3:47 PM

    someone please explain who twisted these players arms to play this game. if they didn’t realize that these sort of injuries could happen then they had no common sence whatsoever…get real

  16. doctorrustbelt says: Jul 18, 2014 4:00 PM

    Think about guys you played ball with and/or pro athletes… 99% of them don’t even know the function of the human GI tract.

    I know smokers who don’t know and/or believe the mountain of scientific evidence linking smoking and cancer.

  17. gtodriver says: Jul 18, 2014 4:19 PM

    To be honest, the NFLPA is more liable than the NFL.

    The NFL was representing the owners.

    The NFLPA was SUPPOSED to be representing the players.

    Who failed the players? The NFLPA.

  18. woodzee46 says: Jul 18, 2014 4:48 PM

    Crumbs… this is fighting over the crumbs. The NFL has the deep pockets. The NFLPA doesn’t have enough money to be a minority partner in a team.

    As for thepftpoet…

    All Viking fans are delusional. My brother is one. Silly rabbit.

  19. abanig says: Jul 18, 2014 4:58 PM

    I hope the retirees get a boat load of the NFL and their owners money! I hope they get a cut of the tv revenues and tax breaks these owners enjoy as us fans pay for their lavish stadiums trough taxes and us fans overpay for ticket prices, and good/drinks at games.

    Screw the NFL, their owners and their new network and contracts which brings them billions upon billions in revenue every year mostly on the backs of these hard working gladiators who kill themselves playing a game they love for us FANs!

    Then us fans foot the bill – big time!

    The NFL retirees have been getting screwed for half a century! They’ve been getting screwed by the owners, the league and active players alike, it’s beyond time they get their due for making the game we call Football what it is today.

    IMO, no NFL retiree should ever have to pay a medical bill and they should all have pensions.

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