The plaintiffs in the NFL concussion lawsuit took direct aim yesterday at the NFL’s contention that their claim is a labor issue that should be governed by the sport’s collective bargaining agreement, rather than the legal system.
The plaintiffs were responding in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to the NFL’s recent motion to dismiss.
The NFL had argued in August that the CBA covers safety and health rules, leaving individual teams and their doctors to decide about players’ conditions and when they should return to play.
The players countered Wednesday that “a party cannot shirk its own duty by pointing to the duties of others.” Further, “the NFL deceived club doctors (and players) by insisting repeatedly that head trauma carried little long-term risk for football players.”
Attorneys for the players elaborated on the last point, writing that “the NFL knew that players were exposed to risks of severe neurological injuries yet did nothing to prevent them. The NFL failed to warn players about the dangers of concussive and sub-concussive impacts.”
They did not mince words when putting the concussion problem in context—“On the NFL’s watch, football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports.”