Five former Chiefs find way around NFL concussion settlement and sue team over injuries

Anwar S Richardson

Former Chiefs players Chris Martin, Kevin Porter, Joe Phillips, Louis Cooper and Leonard Griffin know all about the NFL’s $765 million concussion lawsuit settlement, but did not believe that agreement could help them.

Martin, a former linebacker, said he sustained numerous concussion throughout his 12-year NFL career. The 52-year-old says he has brain damage, headaches and post-concussion syndrome as a result of the hits he took on the football field.

However, the former players said they would only receive monitoring and medical testing because they were not injured enough. The players claim they would not receive a share of the $765 million settlement.

As a result, they are suing the Chiefs over their injuries, according to The Kansas City Star.

“I would like to have had the opportunity to know that going back on the field (after concussions) would cause me to have severe disabilities later in life — I didn’t know that,” Martin, who played for the Chiefs from 1988 to 1992, told The Kansas City Star. “That’s what the lawsuit is about, us having the opportunity to make that decision.”

Kenneth McClain, their attorney, found a way around the league's settlement, which should scare nearly every NFL team.

The five athletes played between 1987 and 1993 when there was no collective bargaining agreement in the NFL. That give players the opportunity to sue an individual team than the league, and the NFL is not named in their suit.

In addition, “there was an amendment to the worker’s compensation statue in Missouri in 2005. It allowed employees to sue employers in civil court if the employees decline workers’ compensation. The window allowing such suits to be filed expires at the end of this month.”

The lawsuit does not claim negligence or allege the Chiefs did things other teams were not doing.

“Every time I would get a head injury, I would stay in or come to the sideline and get smelling salts and go back in,” Martin told The Kansas City Star. “If you have a concussion (now), you stay out for a game or two. To (the NFL’s) credit, they are putting rules and regulations in at this present time. Those rules and regulations were not allowed to us, so we kept playing through a concussion.”

This case is definitely worth monitoring.

If these former players are successful, it could open up a new can of worms for the NFL. Most people thought the league’s settlement ended the discussion about concussion lawsuits, but this could create a firestorm of litigation against individual teams. This lawsuit could also inspire other players to take action, regardless of the outcome.

“We have a message to send,” Martin told The Kansas City Star. “If we have to send it through Missouri, the Show-Me state, that’s what we’re going to do.”

The legal system will ultimately determine what, if any, message needs to be sent.

- - - - - - -

Anwar S Richardson is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!