A new group of former pro football players has filed a lawsuit against the National Football League, alleging it failed to take necessary steps to protect players from long-term brain injuries in the face of overwhelming medical evidence that on-field concussions lead directly to such injuries. The suit also contends that NFL officials – including the League’s own medical committee – repeatedly concealed from players risks associated with concussions and also dangerous side effects of medication administered by NFL personnel.
“An important new element to the lawsuit,” according to Christopher Seeger of law firm Seeger Weiss LLP, “is its focus on a potent anti-inflammatory medication called Toradol. Players allege that they were repeatedly administered the drug, often just prior to games, to reduce on-field pain, a practice that is reportedly still widely condoned by NFL teams today. Medical experts have found that Toradol – manufactured by Roche – can mask symptoms of head injury while inducing greater cerebral bleeding, greatly increasing the risk of long-term brain damage.
“The use of pain reducing, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Toradol in professional sports is a dangerous practice potentiating greater injury and long-term damage to players. This is especially relevant in the case of concussions in the NFL due to the extreme high- impact forces incurred, the highly competitive nature of the players, the environment that fosters post-injury play and the importance of the brain to human function.
The suit was brought in New Jersey federal court by 11 former players: Joe Horn, Chris Walsh, Jim Finn, Scott Dragos, Jerome Pathon, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Brad Scioli, Matt Joyce, Sean Ryan, Paul Zukauskas and Sean Berton. They have over 70 years’ combined experience playing for the NFL, for more than a dozen different teams. The ex-players all allege that they suffer from onset of brain impairment, and experience a host of maladies, such as short-term memory loss, frequent headaches, extreme lack of concentration and focus, sleep disturbances, vertigo, dizziness and depression.
In addition to Mr. Seeger of Seeger Weiss, the players are represented by Marc Albert of the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert, as well as James Cecchi of the New Jersey firm of Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, P.C.
The lawsuit maintains that the NFL’s protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions back to play shortly after they sustained the injury – often during the same game. The suit contends that this “irresponsible and dangerous” practice was followed for years, despite overwhelming medical evidence that all concussions – including seemingly mild ones – permanently damage the brain and hasten mental decay, including early onset of senility and dementia, especially when they recur frequently.