Dawson's Hall call on court detour
July 12, 2012
By Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame just a few weeks away, former Steelers center Dermontti Dawson is among the latest former NFL players to file suit against the league for head injuries sustained while playing professional football.
According to a suit filed July 3 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Dawson and three other ex-Steelers -- running back Stephen Avery, wide receiver Jeff Graham and safety Jonathan Staggers -- are among 47 former players being represented by attorneys John D. Giddens and Phillip Thomas in Jackson, Miss.
The suit alleges that the league "was aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries and concussions for decades, but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information from the Plaintiffs and all others who participated in organized football at all levels" and that the repeated injuries can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.
CTE is a degenerative brain disease associated with a history of concussions and head traumas. Researchers say it can lead to depression, erratic behaviors, memory loss and ultimately early onset dementia.
The suit cites the cases of Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and guard Terry Long -- both teammates of Dawson -- among several other NFL players who have been disabled or died by their own hand, with CTE as a culprit.
Webster died of heart failure in 2002 at the age of 50, after being mentally disabled from repeated head injuries, the suit said. Long committed suicide in '05 after battling depression which may have been brought on by CTE.
The suit does not specify injuries to Dawson nor any of the other players involved.
More than 2,600 former players and their spouses have filed suit against the NFL to date, including dozens who played all or part of their careers with the Steelers.
Dawson, 47, was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers in 1988 and he played his entire career in Pittsburgh. He started in five games at right guard as a rookie before taking over starting center duties from Webster in '89. At one point he played 170 consecutive games. A seven-time Pro Bowl and six-time first-team All-Pro selection, nagging hamstring injuries ultimately ended his career. He was released after the 2000 season and then retired.
He will be enshrined into the Hall Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.
Avery was with the Steelers from 1993-95, the final three seasons of his five-season NFL career.
Graham was a second-round draft for the Steelers in '91 and was with the team through the '93 season.
He played eight more seasons with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers.
Staggers was a fifth-round draft pick for the Steelers in '70 and played that season and the '71 season for the team before playing four more seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.
The plaintiffs' attorneys could not be reached for comment, nor could a spokesperson for the NFL.
In response to previous lawsuits, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy has said that "the NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.
"It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."
You can sign up to the poor exploited workers angle for these players but that is total BS. BTW I am very well informed about concussions since I come from a family of doctors and nurses and have dealt with a concussion with my own daughter playing soccer and several of her friends as a coach on their team. I have done quite a bit of research on the topic.
Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!
In your research you should have learned how dangerous and stupid that was. The NFL knew and still did it. That is actionable. The doctors who told players they were fine to go back on thew field weren't getting true informed consent from the player unless they explained the true risks which they did not. In that way the players were very much misled.
Sorry Vis, no matter how hard you try to argue it you will find few sympathesizers that think the lawsuits are altruistic. This is about money, billable hours, and years of litigation that could lead to a golden goose for the law firms involved.
In the interest of fairness I am attaching the following for reaching your own judgements:
THE CONCUSSION DISCUSSION
2002: Dr. Bennet Omalu makes news when he examines the 50-year-old brain of deceased Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster. In the first examination of its kind on an NFL player, Omalu found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disorder associated with repeated head trauma. Today, according to Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, the brains of 18 of 19 dead ex-NFL players have shown evidence of CTE.
Nov. 20, 2006: Former Eagles and Cardinals safety Andre Waters commits suicide with a gunshot to the head. Omalu examines samples of Waters' 44-year-old brain and determines that it had degenerated to that of an 85-year-old man.
Feb. 17, 2011: Former Bears safety Dave Duerson, who was experiencing cognitive complications when he wrote a note that said, "Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL's brain bank." Then he killed himself with a gunshot to the chest.
April 19, 2012: Former Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who in 2011 was the first lead plaintiff to file a federal class-action concussion lawsuit against the league, commits suicide as his dementia worsens at age 62.
May 2, 2012: Future Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau kills himself with a gunshot to the chest. He was 43.
The NFL, which was slow to recognize and accept the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma, argues that it couldn't possibly have known the effects considering medical science only started to begin understanding it just 10 years ago. "Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a recent statement. "It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."
Named NFL Commissioner in 2006, Roger Goodell has made it a point of emphasis to change the culture by cracking down on illegal hits. A turning point in his crusade came following the third week of the 2010 season, which was marked by several violent helmet-to-helmet hits. On Oct. 19 of that year, he fined Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson and Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather for their controversial hits the previous weekend. Goodell also released a memo to all teams that said, "It is clear to me that further action is required to emphasize the importance of teaching safe and controlled techniques, and playing within the rules." Goodell promised not only incremental fines, but suspensions for repeat offenders. This year, Goodell punished the Saints particularly hard for their bounty program
They wear helmets, that should have been a clue to them that they possibly could receive head injuries. WTH, they know going in that injuries will occur. I would like to know how many of these players would not sign on the dotted line if their contracts when entering the NFL read, " This sport, your job could cause you injuries at the present time and possibly in the future and the NFL along with the NFL teams are not liable for any injuries that may occur. " Half of them would yell out, " show me the money ! " while signing their contracts. I agree, it's a chance for a free ride from theNFL gravy train.
(NEWSER) – More than 2,000 former NFL players will file the largest sports lawsuit in history today, combining their various concussion-related complaints against the league. The suit claims that the "NFL exacerbated the health risk by promoting the game's violence" and "deliberately and fraudulently" hid the danger of long-term brain injury from players, according to ABC News. It also accuses the league's media arm of helping by "mythologizing" the violence of the sport.
The suit seeks to make the league handle medical monitoring and treatment for its retirees, the AP reports. It combines 81 previously filed lawsuits, which together included 3,356 plaintiffs, including 2,138 players. The rest of the plaintiffs are family members, like Mary Ann Easterling, whose husband, former Falcons safety Roy Easterling, committed suicide in April. "I wish I could sit down with (Roger Goodell) and share with him the pain," she said. "It's not just the spouses, it's the kids, too." The NFL says the suit "has no merit."