Headline Sports Law Torts

NFL Players Receiving Adequate Warning Regarding Concussions

Roughly 9,000 lawsuits have been filed against tobacco companies in Florida based on claims that for many years tobacco companies failed to warn smokers about the dangers and addictive capacity of cigarettes.  The class of potential plaintiffs is huge, as many people across the country have smoked cigarettes at one point in their lives.  The number of people to play professional football in the National Football League (NFL) is astronomically smaller, but there could be a decently large class of potential plaintiffs who have a claim that the NFL knew about the dangers and damaging health effects of concussions, yet failed to warn about the consequences involved in suffering from concussions on the field of play.

As early as 2005, independent scientists found that multiple NFL concussions cause problems like depression and early-onset dementia.  The NFL Concussion Committee argued against these findings for quite some time.  A few years ago, doctors concluded that three NFL players who had passed away had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which contributed to their deaths.  CTE is typically associated with people who sustain multiple blows to the head.

The NFL had a Concussion Summit in 2007.  The NFL followed up the Summit with releasing a concussion pamphlet, which read in part, “there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many.”  The NFL did not want to accept what independent researchers had discovered, and refused to inform its players of the potential consequences of suffering concussions.

NFL players may claim that they lacked an adequate warning regarding concussions, similar to the plaintiffs who have claimed that the tobacco industry failed to warn of the link between cigarette consumption and ill health effects.  To the NFL’s credit, it recently has promoted further research into concussions, admitted the long-term problems associated with suffering from concussions, and brought in distinguished neurologists to help protect its football players.  But what about all the players who suffered when there might have not been adequate warning available?

NFL alumni who have medical claims related to dementia may receive up to $88,000 per year from the NFL, but is that just compensation?  Players who believe they have a claim against the NFL for failure to provide adequate warning about the link between concussions and cognitive decline should approach an attorney.

6 replies on “NFL Players Receiving Adequate Warning Regarding Concussions”

It seems to me the problem with this analogy is that smokers were not paid to smoke, and were consumers, not employees. Every NFL player is covered by workers compensation. The also have a generous disability plan, and as you mention the 88 Plan. Don’t you think that workers’ compensation would be the exclusive remedy for anyone injured as a result of work activities? Although most workers compensation laws have very brief statues of limitation, perhaps the best a former player could hope for is a tolling of the statute?

The NFL may have a generous disability plan but it is virtually impossible for disabled players to gain access to this benefit. The current disability plan in the NFL violates ERISA Law and is illegal. The NFLPA Leadership continues to “breach their fiduciary duty” towards retired players on disability benefits just like they did in the Players Inc. swindle. Also, the NFL has know for 75 years that repeated blows to the head cause brain damage. When will this fraud cease and retired players receive their disability benefits that their own union has cheated them out of? When

Dave Pear
NFL 1975-80
Pro Bowl 1978
Super Bowl XV
79 % workers Comp. rating at the age of 39
80% or greater disabled rating by NFL doctors at the age of 42
Social Security Disability at the age of 50

Great article, which should have been posted years ago, before we lost greats like Mike Webster, Andre Waters and others to CTE. I learned the hard way that the NFL will turn it’s back on anyone who sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury. The potential for a class action liability suit is too great for the NFL to accept. The fact that running into people with your head and generating 20, 40, 60 even 100 x’s the force of gravity has been proven scientifically to be damaging to your neurons. During such collisions, the neurons are stretched, which causes inflammation. Without treatment the inflammation causes early death of the neurons, thus ex NFL players will face memory loss, dementia and early death in their 30′s, 40′s and 50′s as opposed to the general public facing the same symptoms in their 60′s, 70′s and 80′s. The NFL, much like Big Tobacco, would rather not let it’s employees know the potential consequences, as they might see a drop in revenue if it’s gladiators stop selling out their bodies.

I know from experience. I developed hydrocephalus, (water on the brain), during my second season with the 49ers in 1981. I underwent emergency VP Shunt brain surgery early in the 81 Super Bowl season, and had a permanent drain plumbed from the middle of my brain, to a pump on the back of my head, and down into my abdomen to constantly drain spinal fluid which was now building up in the ventricles of my brain.

Two more shunt revisions occurred 10-hours apart during May 82, just 4 months after we won Super Bowl XVI. The Drs gave me last rites during the surgery, and the 49ers gave me the hospital bills. I had creditors on me for 4+ years and was forced to sue the 49ers for Workers Comp just to get my bills paid for. The 49ers took me as far as forcing me to take the stand during my Work Comp trial and testify as to what I did my last day of practice. Thank God I won, and past and future medical bills were covered.

I am 52 years old, currently on my 9th emergency VP shunt brain surgery, have had multiple gran mal seizures, and taking Namenda, Arricept and Resperdol for dementia/memory loss, and Lamictil for gran- mal seizures. I have been battling Work Comp to get in to see a new neurologist to have a 24-hr EEG conducted to test for continuous petite-mal seizures.

The $8 Billion Dollar NFL Industry has been slowing killing it’s former employees for years. It’s time to hold their feet to the fire before more families are destroyed.

For a look at my post NFL life go to the following links:

Sac News and Review Cover story

NPR: A Brain, A Life, Battered by Football

Visger Rules – Recommended changes to NFL Rules 071810

Letter to NFL Commissioner Goodell posted on Dave Pears blog

George Visger Interview on KCAA Sports Parade 071210 Regarding NFLPA Poor care of retired players and go to the Sports Parade…

George Visger
Wildlife Biologist
Visger & Associates

Please go to and become educated as to the scam the NFL, NFLPA and the Retirement Board (league) has used to avoid paying valid disability claims. Nobody represents retired players! We are building our next class action law suit.

Dave & Heidi Pear

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