Traumatic Brain Injury and the NFL
It’s that time of year again, school is back in full swing, crisp cool mornings, pumpkin spice everything, and you guessed it, Football!
All of our staff loves football. With some of us rooting for the orange and blue, others rooting for the crimson and white, and one of us, who roots for both, football season at Walton Law Firm becomes a joyful time of jokes and playful trash talk. But there is one thing we can all agree on – the dangers that come along with playing Football. Maybe we cringe a little harder when we see those helmets hit, or don’t mind the new targeting rules, because we see the long-term effects caused by these injuries. Helmet to Helmet hits are dangerous and concussions are serious!
To continue to advocate for our brain injury clients, Trip Walton is an active member in the Brain Injury Association of America, America’s oldest brain injury advocacy group. Recently, they put out an interesting, yet scathing report regarding the NFL concussion deal and since it is football season, we thought we would share our own highlight reel of the report.
The Brain Injury Association of America recently stated in an amicus brief claiming the district court relied on “self-serving submissions’ by counsel that underplayed the serious nature of brain injuries and ignored “overwhelming scientific consensus” in an effort to simply speed up the case. The BIAA claims the settlement fails to recognize or compensate the majority of players in the class suffering long-term consequences of brain trauma, including physical, emotional and behavioral impairments, rewarding only smaller groups within the class. The BIAA has denounced the settlement terms for excluding players who sustained injuries after only a short NFL career, along with players with seizure disorders. Those suffering “mild” cognitive brain damage do not qualify to receive benefits despite making up the majority of the players class. The BIAA cited a report asserting that 89 percent of the plaintiffs in the data file did not have a “qualifying diagnosis”. The BIAA points out an interesting fact, referencing the example of Phineas Gage, a 19th century railroad foreman who had a rod propelled through his brain, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. After his injury, Phineas Gage was able to function on a day-to-day basis, but purportedly suffered personality and behavioral problems until his death. “Had Phineas Gage been a professional football player, he would be denied benefits under the settlement agreement” stated BIAA.
While we applaud the NFL and other organizations for helping bring traumatic brain injuries and the long term dangers of concussions to the forefront of our society, more needs to be done. As football fans who love the game, we should all be aware of the dangers these men face every time they step on the field and we need to hold the organizations who continue to deny the severity of their injuries accountable.