Monthly Archives: November 2013

Seahawks Owner Paul Allen Funds Research into Brain Injuries

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation recently awarded a $2.37 million grant to Seattle-area researchers investigating the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries. During the two-year study, scientists at the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle will examine human brains at the structural, cellular and molecular levels, looking for changes related to traumatic brain injury.

The primary investigators leading the study are Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at The University of Washington and co-chairman of the NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee; Dr. Ed Lein, investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science; and Dr. C. Dirk Keene, assistant professor in the Division of Neuropathology at the University of Washington.

“The ‘perfect storm’ of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with TBI and PTSD, and the increased recognition of concussion in youth and professional sports has inspired neuroscientists to better understand the short and long-term consequences of TBI,” said Dr. Ellenbogen.

In September 2012, the NFL provided $30 million in funding to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) for brain injury research. Earlier this year, the NFL, GE and Under Armour announced a four-year, $60 million collaboration to speed diagnosis and improve treatment for mild traumatic brain injury.

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McCann Analyzes Leeman v. NHL

Michael McCann, a good friend of Hackney Publications and the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, wrote a superb piece yesterday on Leeman v. NHL, “the newest sports concussion lawsuit,” for

McCann sets the table by writing that: “The legal fallout of concussions in sports took a major turn this evening, as 10 retired NHL players sued the league in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for failing to protect them from concussions. The plaintiffs, led by former All-Star Gary Leeman, seek for the court to certify their class. A certified class would make Leeman v. NHL very threatening, as it would allow these 10 players to sue on behalf of thousands of other retired NHL players. If successful in a trial, a certified class could obtain massive damages, perhaps in excess of a billion dollars.”hockey

He goes on to highlight four possible defenses, including:

  • Blame the NHLPA
  • Outdated and non-legal arguments
  • Uncertain causation
  • Assumption of risk

In his concluding paragraph, he assesses the possibility of a settlement.

“NHL lawyers probably feel confident they will convince a judge to dismiss Leeman v. NHL,” he writes. ”Some NHL owners, however, will probably prefer a more risk-averse strategy and will encourage settlement talks. A settlement could take on the features of the NFL’s concessions: improved benefits for retired NHL players and funding for research to make the sport safer. Don’t expect settlement talks anytime soon. The NHL concussion litigation has just begun and will probably take months, if not years, before there is any resolution.”

A good read, here is the link:

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NFL Vet Says He Hardly Recognizes Football Any More

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Doug English for many years. English starred in the NFL for ten years as defensive tackle with the Detroit Lions before settling back to his native Texas. As great as he was a player, he is also a terrific guy. As such, he will be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame next February.

In a story about his election, English told the Austin American Statesman that he hardly recognizes the sport anymore.

“I think the game is pretty much going away as it stands,” English told the paper. “It’s certainly the way they’re addressing the problems. If you run those (rules changes) forward five to 10 years, the quarterback will be wearing a red jersey, and you can’t even hit the quarterback. They may put a little flag on their hips at the rate they’re changing the game. It’s going to be a completely different game.”

He added with emphasis: “Now, it’s ‘Oh, my God, he hit a helmet. Just put a dress on them.”

English said he knows of only one obvious concussion he suffered during his career. After taking a blow to the head and leaving that game, English sat on the Lions’ bench and asked a trainer why it was the fourth quarter already, according to the paper. The trainer informed him he’d all but blacked out for the entire third quarter.

He has no regrets about his decision.

“We were willing conspirators,” he said. “When I had my bell rung, I was always wanting to go back in the game.”

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