Is It Just an NFL Crisis?

19 December 2013

An update from ABC This Week on Football’s Concussion Crisis – with a Who’s Who guest list:

 

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Last night, PBS aired their full two-hour documentary League of Denial on Frontline and the accompanying book from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.
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Thanks to PBS, you can now watch the entire movie in Full Screen mode by clicking on the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner when you move your cursor over the video as it starts to play.
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Concussion Collision

2 October 2013

1959 Three Stooges
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So the end of September has come and gone. No sign of any details on that incredible once-in-a-lifetime $765 million proposed settlement offer to retired players for concussion damages that was supposed to have been available by the end of September. More retired players have died in the meantime. But no worries: Maybe they’re waiting to watch the documentary and read the book. Next week on October 8th, PBS will air their entire two-hour documentary League of Denial on Frontline and the accompanying book from Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru will also be available online at Amazon: League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth

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As with most lawsuits where there’s lots of money involved, a lot of coattail riding has gone on with the NFL concussion lawsuits and some have questioned why we’ve been so adamant in recommending Jason Luckasevic and his firm Goldberg Persky White (and his partners Girardi Keese and Russomanno & Borrello) to represent you. Jason was the original attorney who spent years of personal time in researching and pulling together all the details and partners necessary to finally file a solid lawsuit on behalf of his first clients. And if anyone tells you otherwise, you’ll be able to read four chapters in the Fainaru Brothers’ book dedicated to the behind-the-scenes stories leading up to the filing of those first lawsuits.
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You can also read the full accompanying article on ESPN – click HERE.
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Just Trust Us…

2 October 2013

Goodell Trust Me

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The courts in the Dryer vs NFL Films lawsuit could not have done a better job of making a bad situation worse by enabling the NFL and its crew of lawyers to muddy up the waters even more by allowing them more bites at a rotten apple while completely trampling the rights of the class. Here are two letters that were officially filed with the Minneapolis Court from retired players Ken Clarke (1978 – 1991 Vikings, Seahawks, Eagles) and Bill Bain (1975 – 1986 Packers, Broncos, Rams) rescinding their Opt Out Opt Out forms that caused intentional confusion for many others as well. What part of I Opted Out does anyone NOT understand? Wonder how many guys the NFL and its lawyers actually managed to con?
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We’ve uploaded copies of Bill and Ken’s NFL Films Opt Out Opt Out Retraction Letters to Scribd to make them available for your reading pleasure and for easy downloading and printing in case you decide to change your mind. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close).
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NFL: Nonprofit Football League

26 September 2013


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Some mid-week reading as we go into the beginning of the season. Seems like the mainstream media can’t seem to stop picking on the poor NFL these days. More articles are coming out on the NFL’s nonprofit designation as well as the fact that they pay for as little as they possibly can when it comes to… well, just about everything. From refusal to accept responsibility in paying their retired players their earned disability and pension benefits to taxes to publicly-financed stadiums that the teams rent for peanuts while reaping all the rewards from ticket, food, parking and merchandise sales, the Nonprofit Football League manages to generate a $10 billion-a-year revenue stream that would make the Fortune 500 if it weren’t for their nonprofit status.

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Your Opt Out Opt Out Options?

18 September 2013

obfuscation
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By now, many of you who submitted your Opt Out paperwork in the Dryer vs NFL Films proposed Settlement Offer have received your 2-page form just in case you might be confused or changed your minds. Mine arrived last week on the 16th. Apparently, someone has convinced the courts that retired players may have been confused about what a bad deal the NFL Films Settlement Offer is for all retired players: Your chances of really getting something directly for playing in the NFL while being included in all their videos and footage both for their profit and promotion and then eventually losing all of your visual rights and images from your football career forever was enough for many of you to choose to Opt Out of this deal. But the pro-Settlement forces are convinced that we’re all too stupid to have made the right decision so the court has now allowed them to send out one more confusing document to see if you really, REALLYREALLY meant to Opt Out. We’re officially calling this the NFL Films Opt Out Opt Out Form.
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So if you sent in an Opt Out form and meant it, you do not have to do anything. Do NOT sign and return their form. If you sent in an Opt Out form and would like to change your mind, fill in their form and mail it in. If you are the NFL, the court will also extend your option to Opt Out of this bad deal until Sept. 30, 2013 because it’s already looking like it’ll cost more than the $13.5 million you were taking back from the $50 million in the “Offer” to fight the “tiny minority of vocal players” who object to this pathetic offer. If you don’t like the proposed NFL Films Settlement Offer and didn’t send in an Opt Out before the deadline Aug. 30, 2013, you have no options left. The court did NOT extend your Opt Out period.
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And in the “essence of fairness,” we’ve uploaded a copy of this 2-page NFL Films Opt Out Opt Out Form to Scribd to make it available for your reading pleasure and for easy downloading and printing in case you decide to change your mind. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close).
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EDITOR’S NOTE Sept. 26 2013: After too many inquiries from even more confused retired players who actually Opted Out, we’ve uploaded a revised version of this form so each of you will know: DO NOT FILL OUT AND SEND IN THIS RIDICULOUS FORM! If you’ve already sent in your Opt Out form before their deadline of Aug. 30, 2013, YOU DO NOT NEED TO DO ANYTHING ELSE! If you send their new form in, you will be canceling your earlier Opt Out. Understood? Do we need to make it any clearer?
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Patrick Hruby: Don’t Settle

18 September 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of the more insightful pieces on the proposed settlement offer from NFL to the retired players’ concussion lawsuits. Re-posted from Sports on Earth with permission from Patrick Hruby.
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Don’t Settle
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Settle for Less
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Eleanor Perfetto watched her husband shrivel, and she watched him die. Near the end, Ralph Wenzel was a husk: a once strapping and energetic 225-pound former National Football League lineman, down to 145 pounds, eating mashed-up doughnuts, unable to walk or bathe himself, his mind unraveled by dementia. He was posthumously diagnosed with both Alzheimers and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the latter neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head; a scientist who examined his 69-year-old brain said it had shrunk to the approximate size of an infant’s. Wenzel’s dissolution was slow. Horrific. So Perfetto understands. Understands the pain. Understands the relief over the proposed $765 million settlement of the NFL concussion lawsuits, the eagerness to assist the former players in the most dire need — and their families, too — while calling off a long, draining legal fight.
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Still, Perfetto can’t help but feel torn. Torn that the league is just walking away, cash left on the nightstand. Admitting nothing.
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“This is a positive step, good for the players and families that need help now,” says Perfetto, a senior director at Pfizer and one of the over 4,600 former players and their family members who have sued the NFL. “But I’m very disappointed that the league gets to continue to deny the relationship between head injury and the illnesses that we see. They’re not taking on any culpability. And we will never know the timeline of just how long they have known this and the extent of them blocking it as much as they could. That will be kept secret unless some whistleblower comes forward in the future.”
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When it comes to mixed feelings, Perfetto is hardly alone. Former All-Pro defensive back Bruce Laird worries that the settlement won’t be large enough to cover the brain trauma-related medical needs of all current and future players. Retired linebacker Scott Fujita believes that full NFL disclosure – what, exactly, did the league’s executives and denialist doctors know, and when did they first know it? – is a public health matter. Retired lineman Kevin Mawae likens the pending deal totaking it 99 yards, but not getting that last yard” and taking “a little bit of our milk money back” from a schoolyard bully while getting a “promise that he won’t touch us again.” On the other hand, all three former players — Laird is a plaintiff in the lawsuits; Mawae and Fujita are not — are pleased that peers like former NFL fullback and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis sufferer Kevin Turner will receive concrete financial assistance sooner rather than later. For that matter, so is Turner: in a recent USA Today editorial, he wrote that many of us also feared that a resolution would take years. That this agreement happened so quickly lifts an enormous burden off of our shoulders. We will get the care and security we need now, without being forced to wait for years of litigation to work its course. Indeed, NFL executives, plaintiff’s lawyers and mediator Layn Phillips all have framed the pending settlement as a choice between competing goals: plaintiffs can push for more money and evidence of league wrongdoing via a bruising court battle that could last years, or they can help men like Turner as quickly as possible. They cannot do both.
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Or can they?
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To borrow Mawae’s metaphor, the concussion plaintiffs don’t have to take a knee at the goal line. Nor do they have to abandon their brothers in need. They can help men such as Turner and continue to fight. They don’t need to take a crummy deal. They can demand something better. They should demand something better. They have more potential resources — more potential leverage — than commonly believed.
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Now is not the time to settle.
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Start with the money. Suppose retired players had as much as $493.7 million available to them over the next eight years, earmarked for medical care and financial assistance. Would that change the settlement equation? Guess what: this money isn’t hypothetical. It’s real. Available now. Available since last year. A pot of cash hiding in plain sight, roughly equivalent to the $495 million NFL is scheduled to dole out over the first eight years of the proposed deal.
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Pull up the league’s current collective bargaining agreement. Go to page 78. Look for Section 5: Joint Contribution Amount. You’ll find an annual fiscal carve-out from the players’ share of football revenues, starting at $55 million in 2012 and increasing at compounded rate of five percent annually through 2020. Who controls this money? Where is it going? That’s where things get interesting. And frankly, a bit curious. According to the CBA:.

  • $22 million “shall be dedicated to healthcare or other benefits, funds, or programs for retired players as determined by the NFLPA”;
  • $11 million “shall be dedicated to medical research, as agreed to by the parties”;
  • $22 million “shall be dedicated to charities as determined by the NFL, including NFL Charities and/or Youth Football or successor organizations.”

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3 stooges footballA new copy of Hausfeld’s “The Voice” went out yesterday with a copy of Judge Magnuson’s order from the week before. We posted that order in an earlier post - click HERE to read the Judge’s full order from Sept. 6th. And once again as expected, more misinformation. Their latest newsletter tries to take Jason Luckasevic, Jason Shipp, Bob Stein and Hagens Berman to task by only stating that Judge Magnuson had ordered those parties to “dismiss their lawsuits” (until this phase is resolved). Full Translation: While the judge was not pleased with the timing of the suits, the Culp vs NFL Films and Tatum vs NFL Films lawsuits will be voluntarily dismissed by their respective attorneys “Without Prejudice.” In other words, those suits are only withdrawn temporarily and can be re-filed again at a future date. They are NOT being thrown out permanently by the courts.
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Bite at AppleIn any game, you know you have everyone’s attention when your opponents always have to resort to cheating and stacking the deck. If there ever was a great example of “Desperate people do desperate things,” you’ve been watching it unfold these past months as the Opt Outs to  the Dryer vs NFL Films Settlement offer came streaming in to the court. It’s looks likely that combined with the Opt Outs received by Goldberg Persky White and Bob Stein’s firms, as well as those sent in to the appointed management company and those sent in directly to the courts, we may well be looking at 1,000 Opt Outs or more.
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As we continue to be educated about class actions lawsuits, 100 responses or Opt Outs would have been a typical expectation in most cases. Apathy. Lack of information. Distraction. All these factors contribute to the standard low response that most class action settlements tend to generate. But this lawsuit isn’t really about a one-time deal, as many of you have been realizing and voicing your opinions about loudly. And now we need to be even more vocal. Why? Because it’s all now allowed to do. Even though the Opt Out deadline has come and gone (August 30, 2013), the Court postponed the hearing from September to October 17, 2013 while not granting an extension to the Opt Out/Objection period. Even more interesting, the Court also allowed the lawyers who have been selling this Settlement offer to take another bite of the apple in attempting to dissuade those who have Opted Out to reconsider. And the firms who filed the two new suits against the NFL/NFL Films are being asked to dismiss them (without prejudice) until this phase is decided. But it gets more interesting: Two of the so-called new plaintiffs who were used to replace the Original Six actually filed official Opt Out notices with the Court – and BEFORE the two new lawsuits were filed. Since retired players are no longer allowed to Opt Out, we’ve decided to keep our online poll up and running until the hearing in October. Please vote if you haven’t already done so – it’s the only place left to openly voice your opinion of this proposed Settlement.
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While we’ve been vehemently opposed to Ron Mix on his stance to promote the proposed NFL Films Settlement offer as one of the named Plaintiffs, we’ve also worked with Ron to inform retired players of the impending changes to California Workers Compensation rules. It looks like Bill AB-1309 will go into effect after Sept. 15, 2013, blocking any future claims from being filed. You can watch Ron’s overview from our Football Veterans Conference in Las Vegas this past May by clicking HERE.
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And here’s the video with Ron’s discussion on Workers Comp:
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With Bill 1309 scheduled for a final vote in California, Workers Compensation rules will be changing drastically to block most retired professional athletes from applying in California. Of course, the NFL is one of the groups lobbying strongly to have your rights limited once again. Retired NFL football player and Workers Comp attorney, Ron Mix, recently sent out a letter and form to me outlining the main points of the new Bill as well as giving retired players an opportunity to file their applications for potential Workers Compensation benefits before your right to file disappears.
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NOTE: This is not a solicitation by or on behalf of Ron Mix. This is a general notification to all retired players who may still qualify to file for their earned Workers Compensation benefits. You can also consult another attorney should you choose not to engage Ron. But retired players need to act fast before the window closes before Sept. 15th!
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Ron Mix told me that his office is already backed up with filings so he was gracious enough to provide the phone numbers of several other attorneys who may be able to help you get your initial claim filed on time:

  • Mel Owens (949) 452-0700
  • Matt Hill (949) 572-3203
  • Dennis Thomas (714) 843-1110
  • Ron Mix (619) 688-9630 (we’re including Ron’s number anyway)

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Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon continues his road tour to promote his recently released film, The United States of Football. Watch for it at a theater near you as it rolls out across the country.
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Here’s his latest interview with Pimm Fox on Bloomberg Television’s “Taking Stock” about The Ugly Truth Behind Concussions in Football.
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Hypocrite of the Decade

6 September 2013

hypocrite

baby Deion
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What was it that Deion Sanders said a while back about how other retired players are whining because concussions don’t exist? Here’s our earlier post along with accompanying comments - click HERE to read our earlier post.
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Our phone lines and Inboxes have been tied up since last Thursday when it was first announced that there was a tentative settlement offer being presented to the court by the mediator in the NFL concussion lawsuits. On first review, there are some details that haven’t really been made available yet and this spin is also starting to look very familiar. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of speculation and misinformation out there already pouring out of the media and we’re just as guilty with trying to second-guess much of what’s been said. But we’ve had some conversations with many of the retired players and lawyers in an attempt to get more facts as well as to calm things down.
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Something that’s interesting to note: All the media – especially the mainstream sports media with the likes of ESPN which axed its ties to the League of Denial documentary with PBS – have been posting opinion pieces and misinformation about this settlement proposal. Most of the people directly involved with the litigation have informed us that they have very few details yet. The only party in this whole mess who have NOT said anything is… You guessed it. The League. Is this another typical NFL pit-everyone-against-each-other maneuver? Hmmm. And if you do want some real gossip, check out this piece on who may have been part of the negotiations: Click HERE.
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George Visger asked us to post his thoughts here online as part of a better strategy for everyone: The best answer is, “We don’t have all the facts yet. Let’s just wait and see.”
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George VisgerI owe Jason Luckasevic a HUGE apology.
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JASON, I APOLOGIZE FOR MY COMMENTS I E-MAILED YESTERDAY.
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I will follow up by sending this to everyone I emailed my displeasure at the settlement to.
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Again, I apologize.
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I know you have been in this battle for the last 6 years. You told me years ago, prior to it even being filed, you were in it for the long run. I remember meeting with you and an attorney from a big bad firm that was involved in the settlement with Big Tobacco. You were looking to team with them as no law firm has the resources to take on the NFL conglomerate alone.
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After months of review, one law firm after another turned tail and ran. You called me that day to state, “George, we will get this done for all the families who have suffered. We’ll find lawyers with enough backbone and integrity to go after these NFL with us.”
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As soon as I heard the announcement Thursday of the NFL’s proposed settlement in the NFL head injury case, I fell for the NFL’s propaganda. When I read stories about the amount and payment schedule over 20 years, I was livid.
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“What is this garbage?” I thought. “$750 a month paid out over 20 years?!!”
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As I have a tendency to do, I jumped the gun. I fired off upset before I had any of the facts – other than the “facts” we were fed which were only partial truths. It may be more propaganda from the NFL as a last ditch, Hail Mary attempt to divide us once again. The truth of the matter is that  Jason Luckasevic and the other key attorneys involved still don’t know the details yet: Exact amounts, who gets what or how it will all be divided or the process of rejecting this proposal.
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You stated you need to make sure it’s even real money and you need more time to sort out the facts.
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I believe you and I hope all my NFL brothers I may have fired up (and some who got me fired up) will also do the same.
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Jason Luckasevic is the ONLY attorney who has been involved from the inception of this case when it was only a “potential” case. Others have joined the fray and may be making more noise than Jason but that’s been all right with him as it is with me.
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You did more than what you promised me years ago. You said, “I can’t promise you anything or even if we will ever get a suit out of this, but I promise you we will do everything in our power to get it done if there’s any possibility at all.”
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Thanks for keeping your word. And again I apologize for ever doubting your integrity.
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My family thanks you too.
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George Visger
San Francisco 49ers
1980 & 1981
Super Bowl XVI
Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused brain surgeries
Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits
The Visger Group
Traumatic Brain Injury Consulting
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I spoke to Jason and other parties involved in the suit this morning. Some of the terms have not even been worked out and when they do, we will all have a say in it. The final settlement must be approved by the players and attorneys. If we don’t like the settlement we don’t approve it. It’s that simple.
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PS: My actions and statements are classic examples of what those of us who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries and CTE face.

  • Poor Judgement
  • Lack of Impulse control
  • And Anger Management Issues

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While the conjecture and speculation about the NFL Concussion lawsuit is taking front stage to close this crazy week, Jason Luckasevic and Jason Shipp at Goldberg Persky & White still managed to file Opt Out forms for 564 retired players before the deadline on Friday. They filed those Opt Outs with the Minnesota court along with a full complaint requesting a jury trial in a district court in Pittsburgh. (We’re waiting for the hearing before Judge Brody on Tuesday, Sept. 3rd to get more factual details on the concussion litigation proposal that is still being discussed and negotiated so we can keep readers informed.)
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We’ve uploaded a copy of the full 114-page combined opt-out and complaint to Scribd for easy viewing and to make it available for downloading and printing. You can also click the Enlarge icon in the lower right corner of the menu at the bottom of the viewing screen to go Full Screen for easier reading (just hit the ESC key to close):
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Former NFL players sue league in Pittsburgh federal court

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beat a dead horse award
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Fellow Former Players:Larry Kaminski at Home
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I was flabbergasted at the announcement made yesterday regarding the settlement decision on the concussion suit. I have been working on a settlement for several years in a CA Workers Comp case that only recently came to a close. I was poked, prodded, analyzed and put under a microscope. The end results were “mental impairment caused by continuous trauma to the head.” The folio of information and exams is about 8 inches thick!
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I had already been denied NFL disability because I filed “too late” and was “too old” to qualify (!), plus their evaluation group said ‘NOT QUALIFIED.’ They basically said if I wasn’t happy with the decision, sue us.
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