The recent suicides of several prominent former professional football players, including Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, have highlighted the plight of NFL players suffering from brain injuries.
Now, more than 2,000 former NFL players have banded together to sue the league, arguing that the NFL knew about the potential for brain damage resulting from violent on-field impacts, and hid that information from them. The NFL dismissed the claims, saying they had “no merit.”
High-velocity impacts between professional football players during games can produce as much as 1,800 pounds of force, experts say. In response the to recent growth in concern about serious injuries, the league formed the Head, Neck and Spine Committee two years ago to study new ways to protect players’ heads.
New rules have also been implemented to reduce head impacts and penalize players who intentionally attempt hits to other players’ heads.
Still, with the deaths of so many prominent players — one of whom requested that his brain be examined by doctors after his suicide to identify signs of damage resulting from repeated head impacts — the NFL is facing increasing pressure to do something to stop a rising tide of players claiming brain damage.