It only takes a few seconds to tackle a football player, but the effects of a blow to the head can last a lifetime. More than 2,000 former NFL players collectively sued the league on June 7, accusing the industry of systematically hiding information related to football-related head traumas and the link to permanent brain injuries.
Helmet manufacturer Riddell, Inc., is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which was filed in Philadelphia on Thursday and consolidates more than 80 previously pending suits.
The plaintiffs, who included players and their family members, want the NFL to take financial responsibility for players suffering from Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other neurological conditions — both in ex-players who are currently suffering from those conditions and others who worry they may develop these medical problems in the future. The suit says the medical conditions are a direct result of football-related head injuries.
The complaint reads: "The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result. Despite its knowledge and controlling role in governing player conduct on and off the field, the NFL turned a blind eye to the risk and failed to warn and/or impose safety regulations governing this well-recognized health and safety problem."
The lawsuit also accuses the NFL of "mythologizing" sports-related violence.
An Associated Press analysis of the 81 cases consolidated on Thursday counted 2,138 players plus more than 1,200 additional family members and players' representatives.
One of those family members is Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April. Before his death, he had been involved in a previously filed lawsuit after years of undiagnosed dementia.
The NFL denied the allegations. "Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit," the league said in a statement. "It stands in contrast to the league's many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."
Former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Kevin "The Anvil" Turner told the Philadelphia Daily News that he expected to experience "trade-offs" from his profession, such as a bad back or arthritic knees. Instead, he is suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which he believes is a result of injuries suffered during his eight years playing professional football. He told the paper he is unable to dress or feed himself.
ABC's "Good Morning America" filed this report about the lawsuit: