Lingering CTE debate launches new lawsuit against NFL

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The NFL has been unable to get certain owners to not spout off nonsense about the link between football and Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy. The good news is that the league now has a sufficiently compelling reason for telling the members to quit putting their feet in their mouths regarding CTE.

The bad news is that the impetus is coming in the former of a new class-action lawsuit filed by former NFL defensive end Tracy Scroggins.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, draws heavily upon the recent admission by NFL executive V.P. of player health and safety Jeff Miller linking football and CTE. It also seizes upon both prongs of last week’s controversial New York Times story attacking the NFL both for shoddy concussion research from 1996 through 2001 and for various ties to the tobacco industry.

The lawsuit focuses in part on the period from the 1970s through 1990s, when players were being “coached, trained and motivated to use all portions of their helmets to block, tackle, butt, spear, ram and/or injure opposing players by hitting their helmeted heads . . . . despite the [NFL’s] awareness that this practice was causing an increased risk in repeated head trauma.”

Scroggins, through various legal claims, proposes representation of a class of all current or former players who have been “preliminary diagnosed with [CTE],” and the lawsuit contends that UCLA researchers have detected CTE, on a preliminary basis, in various living players. (This is apparently a reference to the technology that launched Taumark, a company the FDA essentially shut down.)

The lawsuit claims that the NFL illegally concealed the true risks of playing football, that the NFL illegally conspired with teams and/or independent contractors who discounted and rejected the link between head trauma and long-term health effects, that the NFL negligently failed to properly “supervise, regulate, monitor and provide reasonable and appropriate rules to minimize the risk of injury to players,” that the NFL violated the civil RICO laws by engaging in a “pattern of racketeering” as it relates to the concealment of information about the risks of head trauma, and that all players who have suffered head trauma should have lifetime medical monitoring for the cognitive consequences of those injuries.

The league will surely mount an aggressive defense, from trying to include the case in the pending concussion settlement to arguing that the labor deal between the NFL and the NFL Players Associations preempts all claims to pointing out, if the case would ever go to trial, that thousands of players would have still played pro football even if they had known all of the associated risks.

Still, the mere existence of the lawsuit is the most tangible evidence yet of the consequences of recent developments that seemingly had no impact on legal issues given the concussion settlement.

43 responses to “Lingering CTE debate launches new lawsuit against NFL

  1. And I’m sure 99% of these guys never would have accepted a full ride at a major college or signed their Rookie deal (especially before the rookie pay scale) if they had known they could get CTE, right?

  2. How is it only NFL players get concussed? Hockey players fight- one of the biggest selling points of the games-, NBA players use their elbows hitting people in the face and head, baseball players get beam, college football is pretty big deal too.

    Yet all of those other organizations/sports never get called out for their physical contact.

  3. Scroggins was part of the recent group that sued and settled with the NFL, I’m not a lawyer, but I think that pretty much excludes you from filing another lawsuit.

  4. Geesh. Another law suit, just what the NFL needs. I, for one, am so sick of all this crap.

    You know what? Pack the whole thing in. I mean it. Shut the NFL down once and for all and be done with it. Let the players go into the UFC or something where they can really beat each other’s brains in. Wait until the medical data on what those guys will be suffering when they get older starts coming in. It’ll make the NFL look like ballet.

    I know this much. All these players loved the money they made when they were in the NFL and they loved being a celebrity, too. They knew there were long term health risks in playing football and as far as I am concerned, they share in the blame for their problems now.

    And no one has ever cared about boxers, ever. For years, fighters were dying young and had dementia at early ages. And it’s still happening now. But who cares about them? Answer — no one!
    Look at Muhammed Ali. He’s practically a vegetable, and he is not alone. Have you heard Tommy Hearns or Evander Holyfield talk lately?

    So — please — spare me all this crying for these former NFL players. The focus should be on our wounded veterans who have been shunned for the most part by our own government.

    And anyone who plays football now, whether it’s at the pee wee, high school, college, or pro level — you know what the risk is. It’s all on you. If you play it and you wind up with medical issues, it’s all on you.

    Sorry to be so negative about all this stuff, but the NFL game I grew up loving is no more. All this crap has changed it forever. I never thought I’d be ready to stop watching the NFL, but I am almost to that point. If it ended today, I really don’t think I’d miss it.

  5. Lingering CTE debate launches new lawsuit against NFL

    Ah, now it comes clear why the NFL owners suddenly denied the link between football concussions and CTE the other day and came out against the NFL executive who admitted the link. It all comes down to money.

  6. Maybe the NFL will use full amount of Breast Cancer Awareness money it collected (remember roughly 8 percent of the sales have gone to Cancer research ), to fund its latest defense.

    This way the NFL can focus on more glaring issues.
    Like expansion, and playing games in Europe.

  7. So are these leeches going to prove no one got CTE in pee wee, jr high, high school and college ball? Just the NFL, huh?

  8. Why haven’t we heard the NCAA brought up in any of these concussion battles? They are playing the same game with way more players so their concussion numbers should be exponentially greater. Seems like the NFL is getting the full brunt on this concussion scandal.

  9. Called it. Keep paying Goodell tens of millions a year to drive the league off a cliff, I’m sure you won’t need that money to pay off settlements and judgments.

  10. Roger Goodell…the only man that 32 billionaires can find to be commissioner of the NFL? The owners aren’t trying very hard, so the tax payers get to pay for another judge to fix another Roger Goodell lying game. Who holds the 32 owners responsible for their choice of commissioner?

  11. First off, I feel very sorry for guys that played football and were misled about the effects of multiple concussions, recovery time etc…back before you had information available at your finger tips.

    However, for several years, general information has been available regarding the lasting effects of concussions. In a quick search, I found articles dating back to 2000 listing the same types of long term, debilitating symptoms that some of these guys are experiencing.

    In other words, CTE is nothing new…there have been many former boxers, wrestlers and other contact sports athletes stricken.

    Also, many people, even given all the facts, take the attitude that it won’t happen to them…just look at cigarette smoking…how many decades have people been told it causes cancer, yet they start smoking anyway.

  12. DrSteveBrule says:
    Mar 29, 2016 12:05 PM

    Why haven’t we heard the NCAA brought up in any of these concussion battles? They are playing the same game with way more players so their concussion numbers should be exponentially greater. Seems like the NFL is getting the full brunt on this concussion scandal.

    The NFL is feeling the full brunt because everyone knows that attorneys always stick their hand into the deepest pockets.

  13. The only effective and actual diagnosis of CTE is by dissecting the brain. So, his claim of “preliminary” diagnosis indicates that his brain has already been removed already, prior to final diagnosis? The Taumak claims were discredited by every reputable neurosurgeon any one could find because they relied upon non-scientific assumptions which were non-provable on a living subject.

  14. “Yet all of those other organizations/sports never get called out for their physical contact.”

    You’re just not paying close enough attention. The New York Times is writing these same things about the NHL even as we speak. Soccer is banning headers at the youth level. This has all been in the news.

  15. The lawsuit focuses in part on the period from the 1970s through 1990s, when players were being “coached, trained and motivated to use all portions of their helmets to block, tackle, butt, CV, ram and/or injure opposing players by hitting their helmeted heads . . . .
    Gotta call BS on this one. I have played/been a fan of football for decades and spearing has been illegal for a long, long time.

    This is another shameless money grab. The NFLPA was involved in those studies (jointly with the league) and were expressly tasked with informing their membership yet are not at all blamed in any of this. The NFLPA represented the players. If the players were uninformed, it is due to the union, not the league.

  16. What damages did the lawsuit specify? Looks more like a former player looking for a payday.

  17. xballhawkx says “Looks more like a former player looking for a payday”.

    Don’t we also have to admit that the NFL is looking for a payday every Sunday the league is in play. Also doesn’t the anti-trust exemption the NFL holds gives assurances to the league that they will be guaranteed a much more lucrative amount of paydays, if other football leagues cannot fairly compete on the basis that exemption assures the NFL of all television broadcast rights tilting the tables so far in the NFL’s favor that it can fairly be called a monopoly in the sport? Yeah what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all aren’t we all looking for a payday to feed, cloth and preserve our loved ones? It’s always about the money!

  18. Meanwhile, the people of Vietnam and our veterans are still waiting for the U.S. Government to to make amends for using agent orange.

  19. This likely had more to do with an NFL official admitting to a link between head trauma from the game and CTE…but nice try painting it the other way.

  20. mogogo1 says:
    Mar 29, 2016 12:43 PM
    “Yet all of those other organizations/sports never get called out for their physical contact.”

    You’re just not paying close enough attention. The New York Times is writing these same things about the NHL even as we speak. Soccer is banning headers at the youth level. This has all been in the news.

    Right and some hockey players are having lots of problems. Ron Dugay has said he can’t remember most of his career. It doesn’t get the play the nfl gets but it’s there. There have even been suicides from some of the NHL’s “tough” guys from all the fights.

  21. Every proffesion takes a physical and mental toll….the average person plays this out over 25 to 30 years, hopefully with enough to retire on around age 60…..NFL players have a shorter shelf life with many many times the earning potential… average person will talk between 5 to 10 years to earn what an NFL player gets in one year on a minimum contact……they know the risks, I don’t feel sorry for them.

  22. Agree big time with Myneal and 12xworldchamp
    Give me a break! Why do you think you are or were paid the crazy amount of money. Really?
    Nobody told me this would be bad for my health?
    I LOVE football but so sick of this BS. Give me a break the so called “Warriors” of old now want to blame someone for their gamble. Need money, no cheers for me, I’m having problems…how come no one told me beating my head against a guy would be bad for my health? Right…..
    Yes I feel for the guys who committed suicide and their families. I cannot help, but wonder did steriods play into this also by chance? Sorry to sound so unfeeling….I’m not. Its just seriously when are people going to take responsiblity for thier own actions? Seems to be the norm these days everywhere

  23. Well Tracey, McDonalds was hiring at the time you took the NFL gig. Of course, I’m sure a lawsuit could have been filed due to “high levels of fry fumes” in the air affecting breathing capabilities.

  24. If the NFL were smart, they would have admitted to a possibility that playing football could cause CTE when it first came out instead of sweeping it under the rug or diminishing it. Get in front of it. Make a full disclosure of the risks and if the player still wanted to play, make them sign a waiver or a “full disclosure agreement” when they signed their contracts explaining the problems or future problems they could develop. I bet most of the players would still play because the rewards ($$) are bigger than the risks. Just like the people who smoke know that the risk of developing cancer and/or other respiratory problems increases.

    It’s all about full disclosure and risk/reward. It’s how all Pharma, Tobacco and Alcohol companies are saving millions in lawsuits nowadays. Would have save them from all the suing going on.

    Who am I kidding? It’s the NFL. They wouldn’t know the meaning of the word smart if it hit them in the face.

  25. The owners botched this one with their business plan. They’re paying an awful lot to “own” these guys. It’s a heckuva price to pay just to snap their suspenders and have something to talk about over martinis.

    The owners didn’t need to hide the truth from their “employees”. Any of these players would have been glad to trade their last twenty years for $1o mil and celebrity status.

  26. You can’t hide medical information from employees if it pertains to their job . The NFL did and they have to pay for their mistakes. They are pretty lucky this isn’t somehow being viewed as a criminal act and threats of jail time aren’t being pursued over this.

  27. Tracy Scroggin says. I want money from the NFL. For a sport I played longer outside the NFL than in the NFL.

    Bunch of money grubbers who want to put their body at risk to get paid, then turn around & sue because they put their body at risk to get paid.

  28. The players greed is going to destroy this league. You never needed anyone to ” officially” tell you cracks in the skull are bad for your long term health. I knew that watching football at 10 years old.

    Plus, weather you were “officially” told or not, you’d of played the game anyway. Just like the guys of today who know “officially” of concussions.

  29. NFL greed is going to bring them down and right now I could care less. They deserve everything they get. First, they need to sweep out the trash at 345 park ave, second admit cte connection and deal with it through better safety and equipment and lastly stop asking taxpayers to fund stadiums.

  30. The fact is there. With all the evidence out there now. Players are still in college playing. Players are still in High School playing. Players are still in Pee Wee leagues playing. Heck in my area of the world. Parents are putting their 5 yr old in tackle.

    My question is why is it the players just suing the NFL? How about all those other entities?

  31. Lou Gehrig , whom the ALS disease is named after, was also an All-American college football player. Reviews of game film showed he had suffered over 20 concussions in college and the pro’s. The sports connection may explain why the majority of ALS cases occur in men, but cases are increasing in women as their contact sports participation increases.

  32. I take responsibility for everything I did on the field. When you fanboys say we knew what we were getting into, yes you are partially right. Where you fanboys are wrong is the myth that you don’t lose your spot due to injury. If you arent one of the franchise players you can and will lose your job due to injury. When I was concussed of course I’m going back into the game. I was just a average offensive lineman with a average contract that did not have huge signing bonus. I had to make a business decision because there is no guaranteed money except what is owed on your prorated signing bonus. If that stipulation of not losing your job was for real for “ALL” players I would have sat out.

    It’s not a huge secret we used the nfl and the nfl used us. The structure of the concussion settlement is a win for nobody. Level 1.5 dementia is almost impossible to diagnose. That’s the minimum diagnosis to get compensation. Then if you are diagnosed it goes before a review board so it’s not as easy as it seems. I’m sure most fanboys think we just go payoff a dr for a qualifying diagnosis. The public thinks we are all just gonna get paid out cause we made business decisions. This is so not true the only guarantee payout is ALS and no amount of money is worth life. Fanboys read the settlement and understand this is not handout. I think most players will be rejected due to non qualifying diagnosis. The players who really need the help might get it but I think they too will find it hard to win.

    Trust me the NCAA is next but that can’t happen until the circuit court goes through all the appeals process and finalize the settlement. The only good that has come out of this is protocols are in place to protect the players. The settlement is far from perfect but I hope the guys with ALS and Parkinson’s get the help they need.

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