Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Debate - NFL Concussion Lawsuit

Do the retired players in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL have a winning or losing case in court?

Kevin Rossi
As much as I want to say that the players will win this, I think that the NFL will win the case.  The players have all of the moral arguments in the world on their side, but unfortunately that isn’t all of it.  In my mind, the problem is the lack of knowledge.  I’m not talking about now; the research on concussions is growing every single day.  I’m talking about when the concussions were actually sustained by the players.  Back in the day when these retired players were playing, there was not all of this knowledge and research on the impacts of these concussions.  It may sound a bit grim, but you have to go by what they knew then.  However, the players may have a chance if they can prove that the NFL knew all of the ill effects.  The best comparison that I saw was to the tobacco industry.  When tobacco companies knew that there were many side effects to cigarettes, they still marketed cigarettes as cool.  Do I think that the NFL knew things and held the knowledge back?  Not really.  In all, I think that the NFL will win but not by any moral reasoning.  And I do suggest that every reads the Sports On Earth piece and Kevin Van Valkenburg’s piece on concussions from yesterday’s Quick Hits.

Seth Breeden
The retired players in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL have a losing case.

In one of my first pieces for I-95 SportsBiz (here), I discussed this very topic. The concussion lawsuit(s) should be a win for the NFL. Not a glorius win (because I certainly hate to see players suffer from injuries of their playing career...and I’m sure the league feels the same), but a win nonetheless. While the retired players may be correct in that the NFL may not have provided them the best information or medical treatment regarding concussions, the NFL did not do such intentionally. At the time, and presently, the NFL provides the best care for such injuries that they possibly can...but doing so is tricky. There are so many unknown factors in head injuries and the corresponding medical research that the best treatment today may not be the best treatment of tomorrow. To this day there is no sure fire, 100% correct method to handling such injuries. The research in ongoing and medical advances will decrease the unknowns of concussions in time. Furthermore, the league has a history of making rules changes and mandating players where certain equipment for the sake of improving player safety (and the players have a history of disliking and meeting such changes with disapproval). Combining the lack of knowledge regarding concussions at the time when said retired players where in the NFL, and the leagues continuing efforts to improve safety, I believe the NFL should be able to win any concussion related lawsuits.

Drew Rosen
Tough decision here. I think this is a true toss up. I tend to believe that retired players in the NFL do have a good case to make in court. My reasoning is simply based on timing. The NFL is just truly starting now to take care of players. New rules and a true understanding of the effects of injuries makes for a more aware NFL today. Players who are retired never had the opportunity to understand injuries like current players do. I believe retired NFL players have a case in court that they could win. Current NFL players would have a much harder time arguing that they were not aware of the risk that they are taking playing football. The NFL certainly has a good chance of winning their case, yet I believe retired players may have a better argument than most believe.

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