Due to what is known as a ‘manufactured dilemma,’ the recent ruling in favor of the NFL against the plaintiffs in the Sony Deflategate case brought by a former player, aggravates the negative public perception of professional football in America. For too long football has been associated with dangerous play and danger. The NFL has always maintained that it is very careful in its planning and organization, and that any suggestion that the sport is soft is completely false and that there are no links between football and dangerous play. However, the league’s handling of the situation has fallen into a number of questionable areas. One example of this is the way the suit was handled by the legal system.
In February of 2021, the NFL reached a settlement with several players who claimed that they had been diagnosed with CTE, which is a symptom of a stroke or brain damage caused by repetitive NFL contact during the course of a football career.
However, the Supreme Court has refused to hear arguments from several players who claimed that the NFL concussion settlement was unfair and unconstitutionally designed to allow teams to avoid having to pay players for future risks. The lawsuit was initially filed by former football players who claimed that the NFL knew of a significant link between concussions and severe brain injuries, yet did not advise players and continue to do little to protect them from future injury.
While the NFL does not admit any wrong doing, many have called for an investigation into the NFL’s handling of the CTE lawsuits.
Some of these lawsuits were initiated by retired players claiming that the NFL did nothing to help prevent them from suffering future injuries. Current players have also accused the NFL of hiding the truth about the risk of CTE and preventing players from seeking compensation for their CTE-related illnesses. Additionally, the lawsuits were brought in response to a plea deal that the players signed in exchange for pleading guilty to battery charges stemming from a physical altercation with a bouncer at a nightclub. While the NFL has yet to admit wrongdoing, it has reportedly threatened to file a civil suit against the player for damages.
According to a recent news report, the league is planning to fight back against the lawsuits, warning that the plaintiffs are making “baseless and frivolous claims which are intended to garner attention and monetary damages.”
The league contends that the players are not liable due to the fact that CTE can only be diagnosed by a physician, and the condition cannot be detected during an on-site medical examination. Also, the league points out that none of the players has exhibited signs of dementia or memory loss as a direct result of the injury suffered from CTE.
Unfortunately, those are rather empty words. There are many cases where families of deceased football safety victims have been able to receive substantial compensation because of head injuries sustained during football games and practice sessions.
This is because there are expert witnesses who are willing to testify about the probability of concussions occurring. Also, there are databases that were created to keep statistics about players’ risk of suffering from CTE. If you take a close look at these databases, you’ll find that all the players currently on active rosters – whether they have suffered from concussions or not – had to go through a CTE screening process prior to signing with the NFL.
Given all of the evidence provided by the experts, and the overwhelming majority of cases that have settled due to reaching a settlement, it seems highly likely that there will be more NFL lawsuit settlements against players involved in concussions over the next few years.
And that’s just fine. In the real world, it’s better to settle a case than to fight it to the bitter end.