At age 27, ex-Buc Arron Sears has “almost total loss of function”

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Former Tampa Bay offensive lineman Arron Sears is suing the Buccaneers and the NFL over health problems that he attributes to concussions suffered on the field, and the details of his lawsuit paint a bleak picture of his life at the age of 27.

Sears, who was taken in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft and started 31 games in his first two seasons, abruptly left the team in 2009 and never returned. He says his career ended because of neurological problems related to head trauma, and his lawsuit claims his parents now have to care for him because he can’t care for himself.

“Sears has almost total loss of function, is unable to care for himself and cannot take [care] of his day-to-day activities,” the lawsuit says, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Further, Arron Sears has extreme displays of temper and anger with the appurtenant risk of causing harm to himself and others.”

Those extreme displays of temper may have been on display in 2010 when Sears was arrested for battery on a police officer. A few months later he was found wandering in the middle of a Tampa street.

The question in the lawsuit will be whether Sears’ attorneys can demonstrate that his severe neurological problems really did stem from head trauma suffered in the NFL, and then whether they can demonstrate that the NFL and the Buccaneers misled him about the risks associated with head trauma. The league has consistently denied that it ever misled players and insists that it has always paid careful attention to player safety.

Whether the NFL is to blame or not, the story of Arron Sears, who once looked like a promising young player with plenty of potential, is the story of a very sad life.

64 responses to “At age 27, ex-Buc Arron Sears has “almost total loss of function”

  1. a picture of him tackling Jeff Garcia doesn’t really help drive home what a promising young player he was… but he was

  2. With only 2 years into the NFL, it makes you question this lawsuit. The majority of is life playing football was in college, and HS. I’m sure his neurological issues have stemmed from football, but in reality how much of it is attributed to playing in the NFL? Most HS equipment is on the lower end due to smaller budgets, and the training staff is mostly made up of HS kids. In college, you face just as many high impact hits as you do in the NFL. It’s a truly sad story, and I wish him well.

  3. 2 seasons in the NFL? I’m wondering at what point these guys start suing the NCAA…

  4. Correct me if i’m wrong but doesn’t the NFL currently have a very generous medical benefits package for retired players? I find it hard to believe that he can’t get whatever medical treatment he needs.

    Sad though his situation may be, it sounds like this case is a shot in the dark money grab.

  5. Question: If a person returns from war can said person sue the government because they were shot? Players knowingly play an violent game that essentially requires them to use their body to stop an opposing body. The math is simple: you will get hurt. Accept this reality or become an orthodontist.

  6. He really thinks all of his problems occurred by playing in the NFL for 2 years? Really?

    New studies have shown that the earlier the head trauma occurs, the more likely the patient will have long term damage. I dare say most of these NFL players suing the league played football as kids. Possibly as young as 8 or 9 years old. These brain injuries could date back for decades, but because the NFL is the money making machine that it is it’s easier to point to his career in the NFL as the cause of the problem rather that look at it objectively so he can get paid.

  7. I’m going to take a wild gander here and say that his problems stemmed from BEFORE he entered the NFL.

  8. When a player is allowed to return to the field minutes after a concussion, which was happening up to two years ago, it is hard to find that NFL teams didn’t routinely mislead players about the severity of their injuries. More is known now about head injuries and the likelihood of permanent brain damage, but the NFL already had the information and suppressed it. Good luck with finding a judge and/or jury willing to find the NFL culpable, even with abudant evidence that players were lied to by trainers and doctors and felt pressured to return to the field by coaches and ignored by the league. Follow the money trail if you want to know why so many guys are living a nightmare after their playing days are over.

  9. This guys injuries might very well be legitimate but it is very hard to trust any lawsuit these days. I just finished reading about a crazy lady suing a 12 yr old for hitting her on accident with a baseball at a little league game. Until there are consequences for filing these frivolous lawsuits they will get worse and worse.

  10. It’s situations like this that eventually be the end of High School football as we currently know it. All it will take is a handful of High Schools being sued (and losing or settling for large amounts) before they decide that they can no longer deal with the potential liability. We’ll probably see club teams pop up to somewhat fill the void, but the football landscape will definitely look different 10 to 15 years from now, then what we have today.

  11. Sears went to Tennessee. This is par for the course for their players. (See Ray McDonald).

  12. Sounds like he’d have some of these issues w/o the crux of the NFL to fall back on (uncontrollable anger). Sometimes football is a temporary escape of what might have been.

  13. Feel bad for the guy, but…

    If a cop gets shot on the job, does/can he sue the police department? I’m pretty sure that a person going into that line of duty understands there is a chance he might get shot.

    If you play football professionally, which is basically made up the most muscular athletes in the world, and the sport consists of these large athletes throwing their bodies into each other, don’t you understand that you might get injured.

    Nobody is forced into either of these professions. But if you chose them, the results are on you.

    Again…starting immediately the NFL needs to incorporate a “Bodily Harm” waiver in it’s contracts or else we will never see the end of it.

  14. Do any of these players understand that they CHOSE to play this game. No one put a gun to any player’s head and forced them to play such a known-violent game.

  15. I just don’t get how the NFL is to blame for all of these lawsuits. The people suing the NFL have played football since they were 6 years old. Why should the NFL be solely liable just because it happened to be the players’ last stop along their football journies.

    This case, being that this is a guy that only played two years, really drives my point home.

  16. So… money is gonna make him feel better or what? That’s what I don’t get, you made a choice to play the game well before the NFL but everything is THEIR fault. How is getting more money gonna help anything? Is this a cash grab for the players’ families or what?

  17. Sorry dude, nobody forced you to play.
    Contact sports are dangerous.

    People get hurt and killed all the time in contact sports or recreation.

    Freedom is what we all get, and nobody is responsible for your choices. Quit suing people America.

    You chose it, you accept it.

  18. This is a horribly sad story but clearly the exception to the rule.

    The real question, as I see it, isn’t just what the NFL did or didn’t do about concussions as a whole, but what role does individual genetics play in the effect concussions have on the body, and to what degree is the NFL culpable for such discrepancies amongst players.

    We’ve only really been looking at one side of the coin here.

  19. This is not directed at this particular player, because I don’t remember him…I wonder if the NFL will argue that many of these injuries happened in college, or are actually a result of using performance enhancing drugs, not head trauma. Adding chemicals to your body for years could definitely have an impact on the chemical imbalances that these men have today.

  20. It’ll be difficult for Sears to prove his case unless he has the results of psychological/neurological testing prior to his entrance into the NFL. Without a baseline of scores it will be hard to prove in a court of law that his experience in the NFL has caused a empirically significant decrease in his cognitive abilities.

  21. The story is sad, but the lawsuits are getting ridiculous.

    If you’re riding a motorcycle without a helmet, and dump your bike, should you be allowed to sue Harley Davidson because their cycles don’t have seat belts and roll bars? Or do you accept the possibilities of major injuries when you purchase and ride a motorcycle?

    To me, there is little difference between the scenario I just mentioned and playing football. If you walk out onto the field and are surprised when someone blindsides you, then you probably got football confused with futbol and should promptly leave the field because football has always been a violent sport…

  22. if he can be a threat to people around him physically he must have some physical body function. He was in fact able to beat up a police officer????? This sounds very fishy to me. Has anyone considered that he started doing meth or bathsalts??????or an adverse reaction to perscription drugs????roid rage maybe??why is it the hits he took in the nfl period!!!these lawsuits are absurd. How come dick butkus isnt bashing police officers and wandering the streets.
    maybe lawrence taylor is buying 15year old prostitutes because of the hits he took……couldnt possibly be the cocaine….right

  23. On one hand, I wonder if maybe he had some sort of predisposition to neurological problems, even prior to his football days. And yes, two years in the NFL isn’t very long, but each brain is different. On the other hand, I think this is a sad reality of the game I love. I played in high school and concussions were the most likely cause of depression I have suffered from. I love football but fear that I can’t, in good conscience, let my sons play it.

  24. @folksardumb

    If a soldier is shot in a war, he will be forever taken care of by the federal government. That’s what the VA is for. The NFL is a private company and has different rules. Techcnically speaking, as an employee, he is entitled to workers compensation for injuries sustained while working. There are lots of dangerous jobs out there that offer workers comp. Oil field workers, offshore fishing, miners, etc. Sears is not a vested player and does not recieve a full pension. If he can prove his injuries were sustained while on the job, he is entitled to compensation. This is no different than a coal miner developing black lung. His company is responsible for his medical care.

  25. He has a better shot of hitting last weeks lottery with a ticket bought this week . First he has to prove that this happen from playing football then from playing in the NFL and no other place and when it happen Its sad to say but the NFL lawyers are going chew this up and spit it out

  26. Family may have to care for him so they are going to go to the money.. Couldn’t be the entire lifespan of his career, just the last two years in the pro’s. The dude has been playing ball his entire career and he wants to blame it on the league. What about college on down?

  27. Several things here… first, each player needs to take some responsibility here with their own careers. These are ADULTS. How many times have we seen players arguing and fighting with coaches to get back in the game after they’ve been hurt or injured? How many times have we heard of players telling the medical staff that they are fine and are good to go? If medical staff erred on the side of extreme caution, there would never be enough players to finish a game. Players have to take responsibility of their own health.

    Also, injuries are an inherent risk to a CONTACT sport such as football. You know what the risks are when you strap on that helmet and throw on the pads. Its not a matter of IF it is a matter of WHEN.

  28. Though I feel for the guy, I agree with other posters who state that his problems probably were before his NFL career. Just reading his issues makes me wonder if he is bi-polar. Overall, if the NCAA starts getting sued and it starts a trickle down effect, football (which I love) will be done, unless players start signing waivers.

  29. Sure there is a chance that hits to the head caused this young mans neurological issues…but it also could be that he developed these issues from any number of other possibilities. Im pretty sure he knew when he recieved a concussion and im pretty sure if he said wow coach i dont think i can go back out there right now that coach would have understood…and if coach didnt he always could have walked away from the CONTACT sport he had been playing since he was a child. In the end he had the power to choose.

  30. Dear NFL Player,
    You voluntarily signed up to play an extreme contact sport that people try (not in a bounty sort of way) to hurt each other. Accept that YOU, not the NFL, put yourself in this position. It’s not a touch game. When it becomes touch football people will stop watching the game and the money will go away.

  31. A damn shame no matter how you slice it, whether the NFL is really to blame or not…..

  32. **folksaredumb- Question: If a person returns from war can said person sue the government because they were shot? Players knowingly play an violent game that essentially requires them to use their body to stop an opposing body. The math is simple: you will get hurt. Accept this reality or become an orthodontist

    And we surely know the government has misled some of the young kids joining the military when recruited!

  33. Sad though his situation may be, it sounds like this case is a shot in the dark money grab.

    Honestly, most of them are. How do you get enough concussions over two seasons to make you an invalid? As an o-lineman?

    Lawyers run this country.

  34. what the guy is saying is that the concussions he suffered in the NFL caused his neuroligical damage because they were not treated correctly by the Buccaneirs training staff which makes the lawsuit more legitamit in my view

  35. Very sad to hear this man’s story…..I’m sure he could use some “hush money” from the NFL…..I don’t see the guy winning though. He’s probably played football since 3rd grade. So 14 of his 16 football playing years were not spent in the NFL. My understanding of neurological disorders stemming from concussions; they are either abrupt or degenerative. So unless the symptoms came about immediately after a specific hit in practice or on the field, they will have a very hard time proving it was not caused from an injury suffered earlier in his career.

  36. So if you Republican Party disciples are arguing that the NFL deserves no blame, then why do they let people with obvious pre existing conditions play their sport without testing people for these conditions first?

  37. Oh wow… I remember this guy… you know this is prime time in life for a young man to develop schizophrenia… who says it’s even from a concussion?

  38. The league is going to have to implement some rigorous pre-screening process before a player is eligible to enter either the draft or otherwise play in the NFL. For liability reasons alone, I am surprised they don’t already have a process in place to weed out damaged goods before a dude becomes their problem. They need to assess a guy’s brain damage before they can be accused of “misleading” a guy to play football.

  39. I feel bad for him but…

    They all knew what they were getting into when they signed those million dollar contracts. No one has to officially tell you that concussions are part of football and concussions can have long term health effects.

    Any moron knows that. Just like the kids that got drafted this year know the health concerns of football. And not one of them has decided to give that million dollar contract up. What a shock.

  40. Don’t players have to sign waivers at every point in their careers, from the time they are children on, acknowledging the risk they are taking?

  41. The key will be proving his problems came from playing in the NFL and concussions in the NFL.. which will be hard to do because he played 4-5 years in college and at least 4 years before that. It will be awfully hard to prove that he didn’t suffer concussions BEFORE the NFL and that the concussions he had in the NFL were the ones that caused his problems. This is the same for ALL players suing the league and their teams.

  42. **folksaredumb- Question: If a person returns from war can said person sue the government because they were shot? Players knowingly play an violent game that essentially requires them to use their body to stop an opposing body. The math is simple: you will get hurt. Accept this reality or become an orthodontist


    Yeah, it’s called disability… ever heard of it? If a person can prove that the rigors of their job caused injury that make it impossible or even difficult to get decent employment, then that person is eligible for disability payments.

  43. It sucks these guys are having problems but come on, I don’t care what the NFL said or didn’t say, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that too many hits to the head is a bad thing. The fact that people wear helmets in contact sports should give you a clue that protecting your brain is important. I would feel different if they discovered that some of the medicine used to treat players caused cancer or something like that, but hits to the head being a bad thing is a no brainer.

  44. As much as it hurts me say this, because I totally feel for him. But he’s got an uphill battle. I know from personal experience that proving the causation of a head injury is very, very difficult. Even in circumstances that you and I might all find obvious. If the defense can find any instance where you took blows to the head that could’ve caused it, your case is hard to prove. Even if they can’t prove that, your case is hard to prove. It’s hard to quantify just exactly what blow(s) to the head caused these symptoms. But keep in mind, this is not being heard in a criminal court, and it’s not part of a worker’s comp suit. So the burden off proof is much lower. The standards for what constitute proof are different. And it basically can lie in the hands of the jury. This is very tough to fight as an individual. He stands a much better chance as part players’ suit which will eventually all become one large class action suit. BUt it sounds like he doesn’t have that kind of time.

  45. This may some goofy but I think there should be padding on the outside of the helmet. Somewhere along the evolution of this game the helmet went from protection to weapon.

  46. For as much as I sympathize with the former players who are having health problems … sorry, I don’t buy that it’s the NFL’s fault. It has to be a case of each individual, and perhaps DNA, genetic and hereditary traits that affect some players, but not others.

    This game has been around for over 90 years. George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Red Grange and hundreds of others ran around slamming into each other with no headgear or a leather helmet, and many of them lived to be 80+ years old, with no serious health problems. Something isn’t right here.

  47. I dont understand why so many people are siding with the NFL here. The bottom line is that if I am a police officer, football player, restaurant waiter, bus driver, school teacher, or any other job in the United States, and get hurt on the job, I am eligible to receive a settlement from my employer. Whether its right or wrong that is the way the world works. Thats why we pay a fortune for insurance. The NFL is a cash cow, and needs to allow for injuries that occurred on their watch. Period! Just like any other business

  48. Who cares about pre-existing conditions.

    The player would know about pre-existing conditions.

    This is not the Soviet Union or China. We still have some choices left. Although after today, seems we lost more again. Pretty soon, all freedoms will be gone, revolution will start again, people will die, then we will have freedom again. Then people will forget what freedom is, who died for it, how lucky they are, and the cycle will start yet again.

    Snooze, old news.

    Be responsible, quit depending on others to take care of you.

  49. I’ve been saying this for months…this is a very recent phenomenon and truth be told the equipment is light years better than ever before. its just a product of the sue’em culture of todays society. People get in terrible accidents, fall down stairs, crack their heads on cupboards, split their heads open falling on ice and receive 25, 30 staples in their head ..heal and never beat their wives or hold people against their will or beat up police officers. I personally have had 20 concussions in my high-school and collegiate career as well as fractured my skull and at 37 i still manage to lead a normal law abiding life…..enough of this crap already people

  50. Wait! What?? You can get hurt playing football?? Since when??

    All this is, is former broke players who couldnt budget their money, now want more so they dont have to find real jobs. If any court sides with them, ill be a very pissed off person.

  51. I played 3 years of 5A football in Texas. Before I graduated I had 2 knee surgeries and 2 concussions. Can I sue my school, my school district, and the UIL?

    No, I won’t…even if I could. After the first knee surgery, I went back for more. After the first concussion, I went back for me. I wasn’t getting paid. The commissioner never called my name on draft night. It was purely my choice. Knowing the risks, I continued playing for as long as I could. No one else should be held responsible for that.

    If players want to sue, they should sue their own represenation (the NFLPA) for not securing the costs of their healthcare for as long, and as in-depth as necessary. You are a part of an organization that gets paid to look out for your best interests. If they aren’t doing their job (De Smith), you should hold them accountable for that.

  52. Mr. Sears, with all due respect, you are making a mockery of a very serious condition many NORMAL americans have. By normal, I mean making less than 6 figures while working 40+ hours a week, 52 weeks a year. I suffer from the effects of concussions, concussions I suffered while playing HS football. I am 24 years old, and suffer from severe migranes, something that is very uncommon in men over the age of 18. My migranes are debilitating, most nights I stay at home due to the fact that if I happen to have a migrane while out, it is almost impossible to drive without putting my self or others in danger. I struggle with memory loss everyday, sometimes even forgetting to write notes about something so I don’t forget it, I sometimes even forget if I washed my hair in the shower. My job can be an extreme struggle sometimes, with my attention diverted away from my work and towards my condition. I accepted the consequences of playing football becuase I love it with all my heart. To say you weren’t fully aware of the consequence’s when you “Signed up” is sign of ignorance and stupidity on your part, not the NFL’s. Now, after you made a few million playing a game I have spent more on than made money off of, you are suing for more money due to a condition that you say was caused by the NFL, and you wern’t properly warned. Well, should somebody sue GM becuase they drove drunk and crashed their Caddy and ended up in a wheel chair? It’s called common sense. You never spoke up during your playing days, did you? Now there is money to be made though, so you definetly “Signed up” for that too. I understand your conditon, I feel for you, but as a person, I do not respect you, ecspecially if he NFL has offered you help and you rejected it. I pay out of pocket for my medication, therapy, and all of the other losses I incur due to this condition I have. If your willing, lets trade lives. See how a normal American lives with these conditions.

  53. Why doesn’t anybody ever blame the high schools and colleges these guys played for?

  54. The young players who get drafted into the NFL have a choice,pull themselves out of the draft and stop playing because of the concussion and other health issues or get drafted and play pro football, wise in the knowledge that you can suffer concussions on the field and the long term health issue they may suffer from those concussions,if they pick the latter then they should have no right to sue their employer for injuries playing the game,they traded that right to sue for the millions of dollars they take from the NFL.

  55. snowpea84 says: Jun 28, 2012 12:16 PM

    Don’t players have to sign waivers at every point in their careers, from the time they are children on, acknowledging the risk they are taking?

    Yes they do, for obvious and reasonably assumable risks. But what people are missing is all players suing the NFL are contending they have evidence that the NFL systematically tried to hide growing evidence of the negative, and sometimes life threatening, long term effects of repeated head trauma. They also contend that the NFL systematically tried to manipulate players, under duress, into thinking it was safe to play after a concussion or other head trauma at a time in the recovery process in which it was not. In the great number of these instances they contend it was directly after the injury occurred. Now what we don’t know is how solid is this evidence. But we will find out. My guess is it’s satisfactory enough to prove something, because lawyers don’t make money on these class action suits unless they win or get a settlement. They have a swinger’s chance at winning or no lawyer(s) would touch it. So anyway they do sign the waiver’s that you talk about. But signing such a waiver would not prevent someone from filing this type of suit. That waiver doesn’t cover the team medical staff lying to players about the dangers they are placing themselves under. And it definitely doesn’t cover them lying and telling a player it’s safe to play when the opposite is true. These waivers you talk about are really irrelevant to the issue at hand.

  56. I am actually a personal friend of Arron’s. We played college football together, and actually if you google images of Aaron Sears the college picture that pops up of him celebrating after the Georgia win is of he and I. I’m not here to argue or debate about what has happened to him. All I’m here to say is that his illness is 100% real. Aaron came in as a freshman at UT one year after I signed a full scholarship there, and he was a complete ANIMAL, as a result we nick named him Freak! We all knew from his first day on campus that he would eventually be a NFL hall of famer, and I’m just sad to see all that potential drained from him because of his mental situation. All of you guys that say he played football for many years before coming to the NFL, and that maybe its high school that caused this illness, maybe it was a college hit that damaged his mind, and honestly those are all very good points, but you know like I know all it takes is one play for your career to be over, and NOBODY in high school, and very few players in college are dishing out NFL caliber hits. I’m no expert but Aaron showed no signs of mental problems when we were in college. He was a determined player on the field, and a very hospitable guy off the field. Former team mates and I often joke about how good Freak could make a catfish sandwhich back in the day lol. It wasn’t until he got in to the NFL that he displayed strange behavior. I went down to visit him halfway thru his second season and things were just way to strange. He was disappearing, and being very antisocial, laughing out loud at odd times, visually depressed at other times, but I thought to my self maybe he was just different, large lump sums of money can do that to a person. It wasn’t until I heard about his illness then it all made sense. I spoke to him on the phone a few times after that, and things got even more strange. Its been almost 2 years since I’ve talked to him and I worry constantly. I can’t get in touch with him cause I have no clue where he is. All I do is pray. As far as an attempt to get moeny I assure you Freak made damn good money playing football, more than enough to take care of him and hsi family if he wouldn’t have developed this conditon, and he has never been a flashy guy so I know he didn’t waste it. But now doctor bills, and mental facility bills, and money for medicine are going to plague this family for the rest of Freak’s life. Any money that is won in this law suit I’m pretty sure will be used to help him recover, and take care of him in his family in his time of need. His mother, father, and brother Kevin Sears who played linebacker at Auburn are all wonderful grade A people, and I fully support this lawsuit. His life will never be the same because of this and he deserves every cent that he wins, if he wins. I lost one of my best friends from college in a car accident also a NFL player (RIP Jesse Mahelona) and now I lost another due to mental illness because honestly Freak has a problem even remembering who I am. I to was removed from the NFL due to injury, but mine did stem from college and the NFL was not held liable by me or anyone else for my injury, but they are more than resposnible in this case.

  57. Laron he is at his family home in a small community outside Russellville, Al. I know because I just picked him up walking during a thunderstorm and took him home. It is very sad and very real he isn’t right and deserves any help he recieves. I

  58. I personally know Arron as well. We were in class together at Russellville, rode the same school bus, hell, I lived less than a block from he and his brother Kevin (Auburn). He was always really nice, and free-spirited. I remember when one of our teachers asked Arron what he wanted to be when he grew up. He told her that he was going to be a professional football player. She told him that he should focus on his grades more because only a small percentage of players ever have the chance to step up to that stage. I watched the draft and when TB picked him up, I screamed in excitement for him. He had done it, he had achieved his dream and proved to that particular teacher that he was part of that elite percentage. To see what has happened to him because he followed his dream breaks my heart. Best wishes to Arron, Kevin, and their family.

    Luke Frye

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