Mara calls claims of concealed concussion information “ridiculous”

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Individual NFL owners haven’t said much about the ever-growing list of former players who have sued the league for concussions.  If the talking points on this topic are “don’t talk about it,” Giants co-owner John Mara deviated from the script on Tuesday.

Visiting the editorial board of the Newark Star-Ledger to discuss the team’s position on a retail location that encroaches on the MetLife Stadium parking lot, Mara also talked about the issue of brain injuries in football.

“I’m on the health and safety committee, we have more medical committees looking into it,” Mara said, per Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger.  “We’re just starting to gather more information about it.  And I’m very confident we’re doing everything we can do right now to find out more about it.

“But the notion in these lawsuits that we knew there were long-term effects and we withheld that information is ridiculous.  Is there some kind of cause and effect?  I don’t know, I’ll let the medical experts tell you that; common sense would tell you that there is.  But to say we knew it and withheld it, I really find that objectionable.”

Mara realizes that former players nevertheless are flooding the court system with this “ridiculous” contention because it provides a path to compensation they believe they deserve.

“[O]ne of the reasons why we have a lot of people joining these lawsuits is that we haven’t done a good enough job of taking care of retired players,” Mara said.  “That’s an issue we need to come to grips with.  We made a good start in this last CBA, and by allocating all this money to the Legacy Fund.”

Mara admitted that the league hasn’t done enough for retired players, not from a legal standpoint but from a moral one.

“[T]o me, the league as a whole hasn’t done as good a job as we could have,” Mara said.  “And I see significant improvements in the future.  But we still have to agree with the union on how to do this.”

Mara’s willingness to break ranks and talk about head injuries in a way more substantive and sensitive than, say, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones flippantly claiming he would have been the president if he hadn’t suffered 50 concussions while playing football, comes from Mara’s background as a member of a family that has owned a team for decades.

“For me, it’s a personal thing, because I grew up with these guys,” Mara said.  “It’s shocking to me to see guys who, when they were players, you’d say, ‘This guy is going to have a good post-football career – very smart, has his degree. . . .  And then it’s 10 years later,  and he’s broke and out of work.  It kills you to see that.  It absolutely kills you.”

Plenty of former players are saying that it has killed them, too, in some cases literally.  Regardless of whether it comes from litigation or bargaining or simple charity, the league needs to realize that something needs to be done to help the men on whose shoulders today’s players, coaches, and owners currently are standing.

Regardless of what the NFL previously has done, one of the league’s most influential owners believes the league hasn’t done enough.

25 responses to “Mara calls claims of concealed concussion information “ridiculous”

  1. Oh, so you find the fact that the NFL and Goodell would hide information to benefit it’s case, ridiculous??? Well Mr. Mara, it’s not your opinion that matters here, now is it? Goodell will do anything to win this concussion case, anything, legal or not, he’s not above that. His day will come soon enough.

  2. When are the other owners going to tell this idiot to shut his mouth ? For a guy who did nothing to get his team but have rich relatives he sure does run his mouth alot. He needs to shut up and count his money his family gave him. And for those of you who will speak without nowing. Im not a steeler fan but I have to say atleast the Rooneys earned the team they were not just handed the team

  3. steelpalace302 says:
    Jul 10, 2012 8:00 PM
    When are the other owners going to tell this idiot to shut his mouth ? For a guy who did nothing to get his team but have rich relatives he sure does run his mouth alot. He needs to shut up and count his money his family gave him. And for those of you who will speak without nowing. Im not a steeler fan but I have to say atleast the Rooneys earned the team they were not just handed the team

    You comment is dead wrong. Since you are not a Giants fan, you obviously do not know the history of this team, so let me correct your ignorance. Mara was not handed anything. He worked with his father for many years running and overseeing the Giants organization, along with the Tisch family.

    You do know that the Tisch family owns 50% of the Giants, right? Get your facts straight please. Oh, and the word in knowing, not nowing.

  4. Concussions didn’t start when Goodell become Commish. They have been around since the start of football. Anyone who grew up playing PeeWee, High School, College all knows and knew their was an inherent risk in playing.

    As with many other sports, like boxing, baseball, Soccer and ways of life, like being a Jockey or a NASCAR driver, risk and reward is part of the game.

    Trying to blame the commissioner is a joke. It’s the entire structure of the sport. Ask any player. No one wants to ‘come out’ of the game. The best players have to be taken out kicking and screaming.

    Mora is correct that a culture of indifference and arrogance exists. Treat it that way and quit blaming one man, like he started it.


  5. What’s rediculous is NFL research developed a helmet for Riddell that was to prevent CONCUSSIONS. This is an admission of guilt. Why develop a helmet for concussion if it wasn’t bad for you. To boot, every study the NFL funded was preformed by buffoons and seen as a smoke screen, setting back real research for years to come. They still have no idea what’s going on, not a clue. Baseline testing is aftercare. Only a protocol used by the N.E. Patriots, focused on boxing concussion, the glass jaw, shows any hope. Diagnosable jaw cartilage disease has proven in preliminary study to be a marker to concussion susceptibility. The U.S. Army is investigating this connection. Maybe somebody should be asking Craft what’s up with that?

  6. Not so long ago the only “experts” in the world that denied the linkage between concussions and long-term mental health were those hired by the NFL. EVERY SINGLE brain/concussion researcher in the world said there was a causal link, the only question being exactly how bad it was…and the NFL still claimed that more research needed to be done to establish that link. They made such announcements publicly, so it is hard for them to deny what they should have known if they cared enough to want to know it. After years of doing what the NFL instructed them to do, their two “experts” (read: shills) resigned from their posts in 2009.

    How in the world a guy can be on the Health and Safety Committee and NOT know that there is a strong link between repeated head injuries and long-term health is indicative of how concerned the league is (or isn’t) about this issue.

  7. The claim of hiding information seems absurd. It is more absurd since the NFLPA would have had the same knowledge as the league yet they are not a target in the lawsuits. It is common knowledge that repeated hits to the head could have potentially permanent damaging effects. If the NFL had that common knowledge then the players must have as well. These suits are nothing more than a money grab. I had a lot of respect for the talent of many of these players. That is rapidly diminishing. Scumbag moves like these suits are done by scumbags, not people deserving any semblance of respect.

  8. “And for those of you who will speak without nowing. Im not a steeler fan but I have to say atleast the Rooneys earned the team they were not just handed the team”

    Your an idiot ~The fifth-oldest franchise in the NFL, the Steelers were founded on July 8, 1933 by Arthur Joseph Rooney. So I guess the current Rooney’s were in the lucky sperm club too!

    Did you also “know” the Steeler’s and Mara’s are family by marriage?

  9. BS, Mr. Mara.

    Everyone should go to YouTube and watch the 2007 HBO Real Sports segment about the NFL and concussions. The league sent thier doctor on camera to tell the public there was no evidence if any kind that repeated hits to the head had any long term affects…..despite the fzct that the medical community was at a consensus by that point that concussions screwed players up for life. The league was insidious in its greed, and it still is.

  10. the Giants have always been a team that has erred on the side of caution when it comes to player health….Mara might not be the best representative on this issue.

  11. @steelpalace
    The hell are you talking about? John Mara was an influential member of the Giants organization for almost 25 years before assuming his share of ownership. He actually held functional ownership responsibilities well before his father passed, and is and always has been a superior “football guy” to Wellington. His grandfather came from poverty and worked his way into founding a franchise and his father forged the concept of revenue sharing which contributed to – amongst other teams – the smaller market Steelers surviving the 60’s and building a dynasty for the next decade. John’s the next in line of one of the great ownership families in all of professional sports an a diplomat for the good of the league.

    Rooney Sr founded the Steelers with gambling winnings and the rest is largely the same – and any member of that family would be the first to tell you you’re a dope. The families have an undying, mutual admiration for each other.

    Do some research, Champ.

  12. thraiderskin says: Jul 10, 2012 8:01 PM

    It’s really hard for me to believe anything Mara has to say.
    I know the feeling, its really hard for me to take you seriously. And along those same lines, I’m quite sure Mara really cares about your bandwagon opinion.

  13. Try and separate the fact you like your team a lot and you therefore don’t want the Giants to win from the argument Mara is making. He made great points and I think his opinion does SLIGHTLY matter seeing as how he is an incredibly infulential OWNER of a friggin team. It’s unbelievably immature and simple minded to when faced with a different conclusion just say “it doesn’t matter what you think”…

    If you honestly believe that playing professional football wouldn’t cause damage ask all those former pros who cannot walk across a room or hold a spoon. This isn’t secret, they’re pretty vocal about the fact they are physically damaged…

    In fact every part of them that got hit (their neck, back, hands, etc..) was damaged…and they got hit in the head a lot…maybe the head might be damaged.

    Bottom line is that the head trauma was forseeable. If it was forseeable then you really have a hard time putting the league on the hook for paying you to do something that SHOULD damage you.

    In the words of Chris Collinsworth, “you have to be a little insane to play this game”

  14. Best owner in the NFL. Tisch ain’t half bad either. But the football aspect is in Mara’s blood. Mara is a Righteous Dude

  15. As a giants fan, I go way back to Wellington, who indeed bought the team, and had Tim Mara, his nephew, get bought out over Wellington’s not wanting a GM who was not “part of the giant family”.
    George Young was hired from Miami, and Tim was bought out, but won his battle going forward.
    John Mara, at the very least, is being honest, admitting the NFL, which includes the Commish, and did grow up with the players that have fallen on hard times, at least some.
    Does he care, you can bet on it! Chad Jones, a 3rd rd pick in 10, almost lost his leg, due to a freak accident, John Mara paid him, paid his medical bills, gave him a SB ring, and the story goes on.
    There are multiple problems with these serious issues, I think he’s being as honest as possible.

  16. One of the things that will keep Paul Tagliabue out of the Hall of Fame was the leagues’ handling of long term health issues, like concussions, and their links to NFL play.

  17. I don’t really follow Mara’s argument here. What does the fact that players are broke and out of work 10 years after retiring have to do with concussions? Whatever you believe about concussions and long-term health problems, surely these players should, at worst, be suffering headaches and amnesia while living an otherwise comfortable lifestyle with the millions they made in the NFL?

  18. Mara’s also the same person who said that “kickoffs will eventually not exist”. You think this billionaire has never told a lie? Please.

  19. Why is this clown talking about any legal matters. Isn’t this the same Mara that handed the Union a collusion lawsuit / case on a silver platter?

  20. Regarding the broke after football comment…

    The league and the union should immediately agree that starting today no one signing a contract collects a penny or plays a down until they complete and pass a college level finance 101 course, or pass a test that shows they have an understanding of some basic finance and accounting.

    Alternatively, a payroll retirement deduction for an after-football life could be made mandatory.

    That is, if it’s really “killing them” to see so many broke ex-players.

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