Holding NFL Officials Liable for Player’s Brain Injuries

Holding NFL Officials Liable for Player’s Brain Injuries

Chris Borland retired from the NFL in March 2015, just a year after he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. His retirement is due to concerns over head injuries inherent to the sport. He simply did not want to suffer chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) like some of the best NFL players, namely, Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling and Mike “Iron Mike” Webster, the first player who, after his death, was diagnosed with CTE.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive brain disease that is caused by repetitive brain trauma. This brain illness usually leads to memory loss, dementia, loss of motor skills and depression. Since CTE diagnosis requires evidence of degeneration of brain tissue and deposits of tau and other proteins in the brain, it can only be determined upon inspection (of the brain) after death (autopsy).

Another player, whose life continues to dwindle after suffering more than 40 concussions over his career, is Terry Beasley, Auburn University’s wide receiver. Beasley is two-time All-American. He was co-SEC MVP with Sullivan during the quarterback’s 1971 Heisman Trophy season and, in 2002, he was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame. During his career with Auburn for three years, from 1969 to 1971, he was able to amass141 receptions, 2,507 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was, afterwards, drafted in 1972 by the San Francisco 49ers and played 29 National Football League (NFL) games from 1972-75 for this same team.

Today, however, at age 66, Beasley is on more than 10 medications. He is hardly out of bed and requires constant care. He keeps a cloth over his eyes to keep out the light and always has an ice pack on his head. Every day, he has short seizures and his excruciating headaches never go away, despite injections for the pain. According to Beasley’s wife, Marlene Beasley, football is not just a game. Every time players get on the field, they put their lives on the line and the symptoms of their head injury will follow them for the rest of their lives.

As explained in the website of the Mokaram Law Firm, “Throughout its many years, the NFL and team franchises have continuously chosen to increase its own revenue over bettering player wellbeing as seen in the still prevalent debate over the 18 week season. NFL players subject themselves to brutal hits every game they play and while they may be compensated immensely for their time, the health risks that each player takes on are still unnecessarily high. Player health needs to remain the top priority for any sports league, especially one as dangerous as American football. Parties, whose negligent acts needlessly increase the likelihood that an NFL player will incur a brain injury, need to be held responsible for their heedless disregard for those that they have injured.

While the NFL has already approved a fund for settlements that players can apply to on their own, it will be more advantageous if NFL players seek the assistance of a lawyer who can protect their best interests and help them receive the maximum compensation possible from the fund. Time to apply is limited, and the application process is not as simple as sending in a form and receiving the maximum award of $5 million. Players will need to be able to prove that they are experiencing certain long-term neurological injuries, which will be challenging without the help of an experienced attorney.”

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