Former NFL players, including some big names among the 75 plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit against the league and helmet manufacturer Riddell, saying they hid information about concussions.
Just as the NFL is trying to get a series of lawsuits dismissed to move forward with a new collective bargaining agreement, the lawsuits just keep on coming.
A suit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by 75 former players, including big-name players like Mark Duper, Stump Mitchell, Ottis Anderson, Harold Jackson and Rodney Hampton, claiming the NFL knew for more than 75 years that there were long-term health risks to players and didn't warn players, coaches or trainers of those findings.
In addition to the NFL, helmet-maker Riddell was included in the lawsuit, claiming that the company knew that its helmets didn't protect players from receiving concussions and the company withheld critical information regarding the safety levels of their helmets.
The named defendant in the case is linebacker Vernon Maxwell, a second-round pick of the Baltimore Colts in 1983, who spent two seasons with the Colts, three with Detroit and one with Seattle in a six-year NFL career.
It wasn't until June 2010 that the NFL made an official statement claiming connections between concussions and later problems with memory, communication, personality, depression and the early onset of dementia. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement Wednesday that he has not seen the 81-page court filing, but said the league will "vigorously contest" claims that the lead withheld information about health risks to players as the result of concussions and head trauma.
The NFL has gone to great lengths in the last two years to minimize the exposure of players following a concussion – forcing them to pass not only team baseline medical tests, but a test from an outside doctor with no connection to the team or the NFL. However, the former players claim the league was negligent in failing to warn players and that Riddell manufactured helmets it knew were "defectively designed" because they didn't offer enough protection against concussions, yet claimed to be able to provide the needed protection.
The suit will have no bearing on whether or not the NFL or the NFLPA agree on a new deal today.
Amid reports that the players were going to approve the proposed CBA Wednesday, the lack of a vote isn't being viewed as a major hurdle, given what has taken place over the last couple of months and the progress that has been made. NFL general counsel Jeff Pash spoke after Wednesday's meetings and said that the league will look at the issues raised by the players and believes that both the players (whether in Washington D.C. or through a conference call) and the owners (who are meeting in Atlanta today) can both ratify the a 10-year CBA today and meet the informal Thursday deadline.
One of the issues that isn't getting a lot of attention due to the flurry of activity in trying to finalize the CBA is that the salary cap will return and, as such, teams will have to find a way to work under the cap. Given that several teams are currently over the cap, there are going to be quite a few veteran players released in order to get cap relief, which can add another tier of players into what promises to be a wild signing frenzy as teams fast-track training camp plans and have hundreds of players – both veteran free agents and undrafted rookies – to sign in the span of less than a week. The Vikings are $5.1 million over the cap, according to ESPN's John Clayton.
The Lions may have got some bad news, depending on the severity of the injury to left tackle Jeff Backus. The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday that the tackle suffered a pectoral injury during the lockout. The extent of the injury isn't known, but the story claims that Backus is "still recovering" and that he currently isn't ready to partake in practice.
Hall of Fame Game officials continue to prepare for the Aug. 7 game as if it will come off as scheduled. The timeline for the game is going to be cutting very thin and may still have to be called off if a deal isn't in place by Friday.
Jenn Sterger is back in the news … sort of. The aspiring media personality filmed a pilot for Spike TV called "Spike's Spare Time" – a show in which Sterger interviews D-list celebrities while bowling. You can't make this stuff up … but whoever did might consider another line of work.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.