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Last summer, the National Football League and the thousands of players who had sued the league for not disclosing what the NFL knew about the risks of concussions agreed that the League would pay $765 million to settle the suit.
Federal Judge Anita Brody subsequently unsettled the settlement. She was concerned that $765 million might not be enough. The matter remains unsettled.
The NFL's legal problems were compounded on Tuesday when eight former players filed another lawsuit. This one claims that "the NFL has intentionally, recklessly, and negligently developed a culture of drug misuse, substituting players' health for profits." The results, according to the suit, have been permanent damage and addiction to painkillers.
Part of the NFL's defense in the concussion lawsuit was that players might have begun suffering head injuries in college, high school or in Pop Warner games. Who could prove the critical concussions had occurred in the NFL?
Perhaps attorneys representing the league will now look for college or high school programs in which players line up for preemptive injections of anti-inflammatories or handfuls of prescription drugs dispensed without prescriptions.
Attorneys representing the eight men named in Tuesday's filing have said that more than 500 other former players have signed on to the lawsuit. If this suit proceeds as the concussion suit did, the number is likely to grow. A lot.
Some football fans will regard Tuesday's charges with eyebrows un-raised. Of course the players took lots of painkillers, they'll think. Getting hit by a 350 pound guy who's running fast hurts. If somebody told me that would happen to me, I'd gobble pills immediately.
They'll figure further that of course the players were fed everything they'd swallow to keep them on the field. Pro football is a business. Players are expensive, and when they aren't playing, they're worthless.
Some of those fans will also maintain that as responsible adults, NFL players knew what they were in for when decided to play professional football. But what if they didn't? The players took what they were told to take, and they contend they were misled regarding their injuries as well as the potential consequences of their treatment. The NFL has offered to pay $765 million to prevent public discussion of what league officials knew about brain injuries, and when they knew it, and what they failed to share with the players.
Now perhaps we'll see what it will cost the same plaintiffs to sweep away the stories of who provided what to whom and how often in violation of various laws and standards of medical practice before, during and after NFL games.
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