Seventy-five former NFL players filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court this week, alleging that the league has covered up the harmful effects of concussions since the 1920s. Former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mark Duper and former New York Giants running backs Otis Anderson and Rodney Hampton were among the litigants in the potentially explosive suit.
TMZ was the first to obtain a copy of the lawsuit. It writes:
The suit claims the NFL commissioned a study in 1994, titled "NFL Committee on MIld Traumatic Brain Injury" and published a report in 2004, concluding there was "no evidence of worsening injury or chronic cumulative effects" from multiple concussions.
And, the suit alleges, it was not until June, 2010, that the NFL acknowledged concussions can lead to dementia, memory loss, CTE and related symptoms. All of the players are claiming they suffered injuries as a result of multiple concussions.
It's too early to tell whether this will be a blip in the NFL's legal history or signal the start of a monumental shift in the game. If the lawsuit gains any traction, it could very well be the latter.
The Big Tobacco lawsuits are one obvious parallel. To be successful, former players would need to show that the league knew about the dangers of concussions and subsequently covered it up. Getting there would likely take millions of dollars in legal fees and years of trials and appeals. But even if the ultimate judgment isn't gained, any hint of success could signal a blood-in-the-water moment for former players and, as Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan wrote, open up a Pandora's Box for the game of football.
The recent rash of concussions, the 2009 House Judiciary Committee hearings and deaths by former NFL players were the first dominos to fall in the concussion debate. The next to go may be in a Los Angeles courtroom.
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- Los Angeles Superior Court