Shutdown Corner

Former NFL receiver Freddie Mitchell blames NFL brain injuries for his part in tax fraud scheme

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

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Freddie Mitchell was a NFL receiver for just four seasons, but it seemed like more. His "4th and 26" catch in the playoffs for the Eagles is one of the top plays in NFL history, and he was always brash and entertaining.

Now Mitchell is back in the news for another controversial claim. He says brain injuries suffered during his NFL career were a reason he participated in a tax fraud scheme. He hopes that claim leads to a lesser prison sentence, according to WFTV.com.

Mitchell, who played with the Eagles from 2001-04, faces up to 10 years in prison for his part in cheating the government out of millions using fake tax returns, according to WFTV. He was convicted, and in Orlando this week his lawyers argued that brain injuries contributed to the crime. The attorneys had the judge watch a two-hour documentary, believed to be "League of Denial," on the link between the NFL and brain injuries.

"Mr. Mitchell, why did your brain injury cause you to break the law?" WFTV reporter Lori Brown asked.

"This is an epidemic going on in the NFL where it was hidden for many years. It's now come to light," attorney Mark NeJame said.

It's an interesting argument. As "League of Denial" and many other stories have shown, players have had their behavior change after their playing career, presumably from repeated head injuries. Whether that's the case with Mitchell will be for the judge to decide.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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