In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday July 19, 2011, seventy-five (75) former NFL players have alleged that the League knew as early as the 1920’s of the harmful effects that concussions may have on a player’s brain, but concealed that information from players until 2010, when a related warning to players on the potential risks of multiple concussions was issued.  A major long-time supplier of protective helmets to the NFL also was named in the suit.

The named plaintiffs include former Pro Bowlers Mark Duper of the Miami Dolphins and Rodney Hampton of the New York Giants.  Also a plaintiff is former Super Bowl MVP Ottis Anderson of the Giants.  The players claim that they have suffered injuries due to multiple concussions during their time playing in the NFL. 

They accuse the NFL of engaging in a “scheme of fraud and deceit” by denying a link between sustained concussions endured during play and any later ensuing cognitive decline.

The lawsuit does not specify a monetary figure that the players are seeking and the NFL has responded that they intend to “vigorously contest any claims of this kind.”

The NFL has recently adjusted its rules over concern for concussions, by, among other things, adding new rules on how and where a player may be hit.  The League issued a warning to players in 2010 of the potential risks of multiple concussions. It has also authorized studies to determine the quality of the protective helmets worn by players.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went before Congress in February 2011 to urge legislators to consider the passage of youth concussion laws.

The Jackson Lewis Collegiate and Professional Sports Industry practice will continue to monitor this litigation as it proceeds.