Paul Hornung sues Riddell, says helmets didn’t protect brain

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Former Packers running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung retired long before concussions were a major topic in the NFL, but, as we’ve learned over the years, not before they took a toll on the players who suffered them.

In a lawsuit filed against helmet maker Riddell in Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court on Thursday, Hornung says that the company failed to properly warn him that the company’s helmets “provided no protection” against concussions and other brain trauma. He is seeking damages of at least $50,000.

“Prior to, during and after Paul Hornung’s N.F.L. football career, Riddell knew of the harmful long-term effects of brain traumas sustained by football players while wearing Riddell’s supposed protective equipment; however, it misrepresented and concealed these facts from Paul Hornung,” the complaint said, via the New York Times.

A spokesperson for Riddell said they were not aware of the suit and didn’t comment on pending litigation.

Hornung isn’t the first former player to sue Riddell. They were once a co-plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit brought by players against the NFL, but were not part of the settlement that the league reached in that case. The suit against Riddell could move forward when that suit is finalized, per the Times, although Hornung’s claim would be handled as a separate issue.

43 responses to “Paul Hornung sues Riddell, says helmets didn’t protect brain

  1. Now the question is whether it will turn into it’s own stand alone class action suit. Riddell temporarily dodged the bullet in the NY suit but the gun is far from empty

  2. They haven’t devised a helmet yet that can protect the brain. The deceleration forces can be that intense, even at varsity and JV levels of football.

    And Hornung played a half-century ago or more.

    If Hornung is upset, his beef would probably be better directed to those who may have concealed the germane information from the players, fans, authorities, etc.

  3. I would never begrudge someone who has been neglectfully injured and deserves what he can get, but these types of lawsuits just reek of the smell of a former athlete who is low on $$$ and is looking for a fresh injection of income.

  4. Fiddy-grand!!! That’s it? That’s all his brain is worth? Sounds like he’s trying to cover a gambling debt! Old habits….you know…

  5. The invention of the plastic helmet in the late 40’s and it’s ‘suspension’ head protection create excessive forces on the head in the name of ‘safety’. The old leather & padding helmets probably absorbed more force than the ‘new & improved’ plastic helmets.

    Leather absorbs forces from both the hitter and the hittee.

  6. mmi16 says:
    Jul 7, 2016 5:54 PM

    The invention of the plastic helmet in the late 40’s and it’s ‘suspension’ head protection create excessive forces on the head in the name of ‘safety’. The old leather & padding helmets probably absorbed more force than the ‘new & improved’ plastic helmets.

    Leather absorbs forces from both the hitter and the hittee

    =================================

    I’ve always thought the plastic helmets were more about a pretty place to put logos than protection.

    I would imagine that a proper leather helmet would end up with a great deal less concussions, I would be interested in how much studies have looked at a soft helmet option.

  7. Your argument sounds as ridiculous as someone trying to justify the use of a “soft” hard hat for construction workers. What would be worse in today’s NFL (players being faster, stronger, and more powerful)… a concussion or a skull fracture?

  8. This is why motorcycle helmets are no longer made in the US. Some squid runs into a concrete piling at 120 MPH and his parents sue the helmet manufacturer. There’s risk in almost every single thing people do but everyone wants money when those risks take their payment.

  9. It would be just like the NFL to have “protective” gear that did more harm than good.

    Remember when MNF had that graphic of the helmets from each team smashing into one another? Good times.

  10. mmi16 says:

    The invention of the plastic helmet in the late 40’s and it’s ‘suspension’ head protection create excessive forces on the head in the name of ‘safety’. The old leather & padding helmets probably absorbed more force than the ‘new & improved’ plastic helmets.

    Leather absorbs forces from both the hitter and the hittee.
    ==================================

    Maybe he can prove that in court, since he did in fact wear leather helmets as well. Look at his Notre Dame pictures.

  11. He is seeking damages of at least $50,000.
    ____________________

    It could be for $50 million.

  12. Apparently, they still don’t prevent concussions, but please don’t tell me you didn’t know getting hit in the head could cause a concussion. My God, this has to stop.

  13. Boxing head gear only helps with the cuts. We have all known, including Hornung, that helmets are not protection against everything.

    This is past frivolous.

  14. Money grab.
    Such is life though. Capitalism is the best economic system ever created. But ultimately for the vast majority of people it all boils down to this: you gotta get what you can while you can. Former football heroes are no different.

  15. Paul Hornung is such a heavy drinker that I don’t think science is capable of separating which brain cells were damaged by playing football and which ones were destroyed by the booze.

  16. Sooner or later one of these cases is going to cause these equipment manufacturers to just stop making helmets altogether. The exposure will just be too great given the other areas they can make money..

    No helmets = no football. Mark it down, its going to happen. forget the pros… these companies can’t take the kid risk much longer.

  17. C’mon Paul. I’m a fan, but every picture I’ve seen of you in the last 10 years – you look terrible.
    Keeping yourself in some semblance of good shape might have had some positive effect on your mental abilities.
    How does hanging out and drinking with the horseracing and gambling crowd improve your health?

  18. “(Horning) never went to bed before 4:00 a.m., he never went to bed alone, and he never repeated himself… it was part of his image that he was supposed to get laid every night, and therefore to live up to this image he would get laid every night.”

    — David Maraniss, “When Pride Still Mattered”

    Seems like football provided some other benefits to offset the noggin’-bruising.

  19. 50,000? please tell me you neglected to include the rest of the zeroes and that’s a typo…otherwise, he must be trying to open the door wide open for others to pursue similar litigation. maybe he thinks he’s doing the right thing in doing so.

  20. Notre Dame didn’t tell me I needed to study and prepare for life after football. I spent all my money so somebody give me some. It’s not my fault.

  21. Helmets cannot protect a brain from slamming against the inside of a skull. You would have a better argument suing the cleat manufacturers for making everyone run so fast and hit so hard they cause concussions.

    If you want fewer concussions have everyone play in cleatless shoes.

  22. Paul Hornung is 80 years old, older than a lot of men who didn’t play football live to see.

  23. He makes it obvious that this is a longshot money grab, and included that comparatively dirt cheap $50K in the hopes it isn’t worth the cost in time or money to fight it.

    It also clearly shows he doesn’t feel he deserves it or that Riddell is liable. Even if it is, how will he prove the compamy was fully aware of the extent and seriousness of the concussion issue? (Before most of the medical community?)

    Even if he can find and prove valid all of the research and testing done back then, we didn’t have nearly the technology — nothing at all to see inside the skull, much less detailed brain images.

    This is sad; he’s swallowing his pride and hoping they’ll feel sorry for him; that nostalgia and good publicity might be worth that piddling (to Riddell) amount to make him go away.
    It’s essentially aggressive panhandling.

  24. bcgreg says:
    Jul 7, 2016 8:43 PM

    Apparently, they still don’t prevent concussions, but please don’t tell me you didn’t know getting hit in the head could cause a concussion. My God, this has to stop.
    ———————–

    I agree to a point. It comes down to what Riddell said their helmets would do. It was a new technology then and they may have overpromised on what it would be able to protect.

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