ESPN Coverage on Concussion Lawsuits

Nov 18, 2012

Concussion coverage continues to take center stage in mid-season as ESPN keeps digging deeper into the contradictory position the League continued to take on the long-term damages of brain injuries from a career in football. Mark Fainaru-Wada reports on the findings of a joint ESPN Outside the Lines and PBS Frontline investigation. Dave’s concussion lawsuit attorney Jason Luckasevic was part of a discussion panel with ESPN’s Outside the Lines this past Friday – here’s the audio:

And here’s an earlier OTL video from back in February 2012 with background on the growing concussion lawsuits being filed:

Then there’s a very recent clip from ESPN discussing the “smoking gun” that could damage the NFL’s claims of ignorance about concussions even as the Disability Board unanimously approved three disability claims based on concussion injuries suffered by players – all while denying the majority of similar claims by publicly disavowing any connection of long-term damages from concussions and brain injuries. Hall of Famer Mike Webster is the most prominent of those three approved claims with a $1.8 million settlement to his estate after giving the NFL and its Disability Plan a sound beating in the appeals process.

And the article from Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada at ESPN:

Mixed messages on brain injuries

By Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada |
Updated: November 16, 2012
The NFL’s retirement board awarded disability payments to at least three former players after concluding that football caused their crippling brain injuries — even as the league’s top medical experts for years consistently denied any link between the sport and long-term brain damage.
The board paid at least $2 million in disability benefits to the players in the late 1990s and 2000s, documents obtained in a joint investigation by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and PBS’ “Frontline” show. The approvals were outlined in previously unpublished documents and medical records related to the 1999 disability claim of Hall of Fame center Mike Webster.
The board’s conclusion that Webster and other players suffered brain damage from playing in the NFL could be critical evidence in an expanding lawsuit against the league filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit, which involves nearly 4,000 former players, alleges that the NFL for years denied the risks of long-term brain damage and “propagated its own industry-funded and falsified research to support its position.”
Read the rest of this article by clicking HERE.

8 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    November 18th, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Dave Pear

    “It’s pretty devastating evidence,” said Fitzsimmons. “If the NFL takes the position that they didn’t know or weren’t armed with evidence that concussions can cause total disability — permanent disability, permanent brain injury — in 1999, that evidence trumps anything they say.”

    Dave & Heidi Pear

  2. Tommy Nobis
    November 18th, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Tommy Nobis

    My playing/practice days (1966 – 1976) while in the NFL are definitely causing me some mental problems now. I’m sure the helmet that I was given to wear while I participated in both practice sessions and in NFL games is the cause.

    My feelings are that I’ll need some medical help and may require physical assistance down the road soon.

    Yes. I will also need some professional advice on how I should proceed with my actions regarding this situation. I am reaching a point where I need some help. For months now I haven’t been able to think clearly throughout each day. Getting lost driving around a city I’ve lived in most of my adult life is a good example.

    I played the NFL game for 11 seasons (5 Pro Bowls) wearing a Riddell helmet; not the padded type but the old one that Riddell was selling in the 60?s and early 70?s. Inside it looked sorta like a spider web.

    I started having some concussion problems in the mid-70?s and had to retire. Here’s hoping someone reads my comments about my health situation and head problems – any help will be appreciated!

    Tommy Nobis
    Atlanta Falcons
    1966 – 1976

  3. John Hogan
    November 19th, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    John Hogan

    If the NFL “knew” that concussions could be disabling because of the decisions of the Bell/Rozelle Retirement Board, then the Player’s Association also knew. Can that knowledge be imputed to the players whom the PA represents and represented? Why isn’t the PA being sued?

    Also, it points out what I believe may be one of the NFL’s main defenses to the concussion lawsuits – there are various benefits available to players who have suffered the effects of concussions via the CBA including total and permanent disability benefits and the 88 Plan.

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  4. George Visger
    November 19th, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    George Visger Brain Scans


    I played in the early 80’s and developed hydrocephalus at age 22 from concussions. Underwent 9 brain surgeries thus my condition has been exasperated and I’ve been showing the same symptoms you are but mine started in my 20’s! I would literally ask my wife repeatedly how to get to specific stores, kids schools etc.

    Three years ago I started on heavy doses of Dr. Sears Omega 3’s and Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments. Since that time I have quit all four of the dementia meds I was on and Dr. Amen’s Clinic recently scored me at near 20% improvement in my cognitive abilities! Feel free to contact me if you need more information.

    George Visger
    San Francisco 49ers 80 & 81
    Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
    Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits

  5. George Visger
    November 19th, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    George Visger


    In regards to why the NFLPA is not being sued, great question. I turned to them during the ’81 season after my first brain surgery as I felt the 49ers were withholding information from me. The NFLPA directed me to the law firm Henning, Walsh and Richey, who supposedly was looking into a number of different avenues for me, including filing any claims I had. Four months after the season I had two more brain surgeries and was given last rites. The NFLPA’s recommended law firm actually strung me out long enough for my statue of limitations to expire.

    Never heard from the NFLPA again expect for asking for my dues payment each year which I continued to pay for several years post-career (when I could afford it).

    In regards to the NFL’s defense that they have programs set up to address the effects of concussions, that looks good on paper. Unfortunately, for someone like myself who has suffered NINE NFL-caused brain surgeries, as was proven during my Workers Comp trial in 1984, the NFL benefit programs do not apply. Only to “vested” players. But that’s another scam – er, story…

    George Visger

  6. Dave Pear
    November 19th, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Dave at Home

    So what did the NFL know and when did they know it?

    For decades and decades, the NFL has clearly known about the serious effects from concussions which are brain damage and they did everything possible to cover it up. Their own Disability Board was set up to not award disability benefits to disabled players who were rated as 80% or greater disabled and required to rest frequently on the job (this is from the examination of the NFL’s own doctors). All while telling them to work with broken necks, backs, hips, etc.

    This is what the NFL really thinks about concussions:

    Dave Pear

  7. John Hogan
    November 19th, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    John Hogan


    I certainly don’t think the programs offered are anywhere near adequate and the entity most culpable for that may be the PA in not fighting for more benefits for players – including guys who contributed much to the game like you but who were not vested for benefit eligibility.

    I guess my point was that this “new” information may not be as important as we would all like it to be!

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  8. John Brodie
    November 19th, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    John Brodie

    My husband, John, had a stroke 12 years ago. He shouldn’t have survived but today he is still doing therapy and continues to improve. He was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to have stem cell treatments. Unfortunately, he had to go to Moscow, Russia to have them. There is hope that this will be available in Mexico some time soon. He didn’t know if they would work but was willing to try anything to get better. He has had six or seven treatments and does speech therapy and physical therapy three times a week. He also has acupuncture and oriental herbs and they are helping his brain function.

    Of course, insurance doesn’t pay after a year or less. All of these ex-players could have a chance to improve their condition if the League would just cover the costs. There are no cures but quality of life can be improved.

    My heart breaks as I watch more and more of our old friends and the younger ones as well falling into the abyss of brain damage.

    John joins me in sending this message.

    Sue Brodie
    for John Brodie
    San Francisco 49ers
    1957 – 1973