Over 100 pro-football players have filed lawsuits against the NFL, including former star Chicago Bears defensive back Shaun Gayle. Gayle is suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussive brain injury that causes cognitive deficits such as short-term memory loss and headaches.
Gayle is critical of the NFL for not warning him or others about the possible long-term effects of concussions and for not keeping him off the playing field when he was suffering from concussions. He is also targeting Riddell, a company that makes helmets for the NFL, saying that these helmets do not properly protect players from harm.
There is a separate federal class-action lawsuit against the NFL that will carefully be followed for liability determinations and compensation to players and their families. The NFL is on record as saying these lawsuits have "no merit." The NFL Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, formed in 1994, is also being criticized for not doing enough to protect players and actually misleading current and former players about possible long-term brain injuries.
These cases from professional football players in Illinois and elsewhere demonstrate a growing awareness of the critical need for adequate head protection and education to prevent concussions and other debilitating trauma to the brain. The damage that a brain injury causes can last a lifetime. These cases also represent an increasing trend of sports players seeking liability damages for permanent injuries.
If the NFL or Riddell is found at-fault in these lawsuits, the compensation settlement could be enormous. A precedent will be set by these suits that will forever change sports playing fields and the responsibility of leagues to protect their players from traumatic brain injuries.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Ex-Bear Shaun Gayle sues NFL, says he suffers from head injuries," Lisa Donovan, July 11, 2012