Seventy-five former professional football players are suing the National Football League for allegedly concealing the dangers of concussions for 90 years. They cite fraud, negligence and failure to warn. TMZ reports that the players and their wives claim "the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects on a player's brain of concussions; however, until June of 2010 they concealed these facts from coaches, trainers, players and the public."
According to TMZ, the suit claims the NFL commissioned a study in 1994, titled "NFL Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury," and published a report in 2004 that concluded there was "no evidence of worsening injury or chronic cumulative effects" from multiple concussions. The suit also alleges that it was not until June 2010 that the NFL acknowledged concussions can lead to dementia, memory loss, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and related symptoms. All of the players claim they suffered injuries as a result of multiple concussions.
In February, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson committed suicide at age 50. Researchers at Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy determined that he was suffering from a moderately advanced case of CTE, a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated brain trauma that likely contributed to his deteriorating condition in recent years.
On Monday, new research was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2011 suggesting that retired NFL players also face a higher risk for mild cognitive impairment - a kind of dementia related to Alzheimer's disease - than do similarly aged men who do not play football.
The NFL has made several adjustments since last year that indicate league officials now recognize the severity of concussions and repeated blows to the head, including issuing health warnings to players and fining them for violent hits. And NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has gone before Congress to urge legislators from all 50 states to pass youth concussion laws.
NFL helmet manufacturer Riddell also is a defendant in the suit, which TMZ reports seeks unspecified damages.