Seventy-five former NFL players would answer this question with a resounding "Yes!" These players, along with many of their wives, filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, fraud, failure to warn, loss of consortium, and design and manufacturing defect against the National Football League and Riddell, Inc., the maker of the NFL's helmets. The crux of the former players' complaint, which was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on July 19, 2011, was that the NFL failed to protect and educate the players about the risks and long term effects of concussion injuries and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). According to the complaint, "For decades defendants have known that multiple blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injuries, including memory loss, dementia, depression and CTE [Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy] and its related symptoms." The players contend that the League has possessed this knowledge since as far back as 1920.
According to Sports MD, "CTE is a degenerative brain disease that results in behaviors similar to Alzheimer's disease." Research shows that that cause of CTE is clear, repeated brain trauma. The 75 former players who are filing suit, which include former Miami Dolphins receiver Mark Duper, former New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals running back Ottis Anderson, and former New York Giants running back Rodney Hampton, claim that the NFL knew of the danger repeated concussions and CTE presented, but was negligent because it did nothing to inform or protect players.
The former players base their allegations on the fact that in 1994, The NFL commissioned a study called the "NFL Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury." This study, which was completed in 2004, concluded that there was no evidence to show that multiple concussions caused worsening injury or cumulative effects on players. However, the former players' complaint alleges that in 2002 Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist, linked CTE to the deaths of four former NFL players, including Hall of Famer Mike Webster. The former players allege that despite being aware of the dangerous effects multiple concussions and CTE may have on players, the NFL waited until 2010 to come out publically and state that there may be risks for players.
In their complaint, the NFL players specifically allege that the NFL breached several duties that the owed them regarding this issue. Some of these duties include:
• Protecting players on the playing field
• Educating players about CTE or concussion injuries
• Educating trainers, physicians, and coaches about CTE or concussion injuries
• Formulating complete and comprehensive return to play guidelines for players who have suffered concussions.
The former players contend that because the NFL did not protect and educate them about the risks of concussions or promote research regarding CTE and its effects and possible cures, the NFL is liable to them, as former NFL players, for damages. The former players did not list a specific amount of damages that they are seeking to recover in their complaint. However they are seeking to recover compensatory, special, incidental and punitive damages, along with court costs.