NFL Concussion Lawsuits: Players Need To Stop Playing Victim

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NFL players continue to file concussion lawsuits and I continue to be mystified by the claims the players are alleging against the NFL.

Here are the specific claims the NFL players have alleged (taken from the court documents):

  1. 1.Plaintiffs now contend that the NFL breached a duty to protect players from the risks of concussions.
  2. 2.Players contend that the NFL failed to fulfill a duty to ensure the safety of NFL players.

When the Johnny Manziel lawsuit was filed earlier in the week (where a person claimed Manziel sexually harassed another person), it was quickly dismissed as a hoax. People were somewhat outraged the court would even allow the lawsuit to be filed.  I feel the same way about the NFL concussion lawsuits.

The player-plaintiffs not only voluntarily engaged in an activity, but also dedicate their lives to working until exhaustion on a daily basis for several years to engage in an activity that they know is dangerous.

And the activity they chose to engage in all but requires that you slam your head against an immovable object (the ground), repeatedly. 

Those same plaintiffs are now alleging that the NFL didn’t “ensure their safety,” and didn’t “protect them from the risks of concussions.” Those claims are laughable.

The recent news of Washington tight end Jordan Reed’s four concussions in four seasons highlights the absurd nature of the concussion lawsuits.

Reed admitted that he hid the symptoms of his concussions from doctors as best as he could so that he could continue playing.

"I think I had had a concussion two weeks before, but I didn't tell nobody so when I took a shot to the side of my head against the Eagles it made it worse," Reed said. "I was in a bad spot for a long time. I didn't know if they would ever go away, but I'm past it now."

It was Reed who didn’t ensure his own safety and prioritized his spot on the football team over his mental and physical health.

Fast forward ten years, when Reed is back in a “bad spot” for much longer periods. Or worse, when he’s in that “bad spot” indefinitely and it doesn’t go away. That’s when he’ll slap his name on a lawsuit and say the NFL didn’t blah, blah, blah.

No, Reed. You didn’t ensure your own safety. Should I be able to legitimately sue a mason company if I suffer brain damage after hitting myself with a brick every morning?

The reason why the players’ concussion lawsuits gains traction and is not viewed through the same lens as the Manziel lawsuit is because of the endgame of the activity the plaintiffs engaged in.

NFL players are suffering memory loss, severe physical pain, broken minds and even committing suicide. But the endgame has nothing to do with the game of football itself, nor does it have to do with the decision the players made to play the game.

If you play a sport, or engage in any activity, where your head is frequently getting hit, it is self-evident you will suffer both short- and long-term detrimental effects to your physical and mental well-being. To claim otherwise is to enter the realm of the absurd.  

It’s not lost upon me that the endgame of the sport of football is nothing short of deadly. I truly feel for each player suffering through the excruciating pain and dark depression that football brought on.

The very act of putting a helmet on in order to play a game should alert a reasonable person to the fact that your head is at grave risk for injury. First and foremost, it is the people with the helmets on who are responsible for ensuring their own safety.

But what we see are players, like Jordan Reed, who completely disregard their safety, hide the concussion symptoms and continue to comprise their health. And do so eagerly and voluntarily.

It’s time the players take responsibility for their actions and not play victim to the choices they made to play this game.

Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins Bio

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).

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Cedric Hopkins

Cedric Hopkins runs this sports law/fantasy football blog. If you have issues with it, it's all his fault. Cedric was an athlete-student at the University of New Mexico (Basketball - Go Lobos!). He then morphed into a student-athlete when he attended law school in San Diego. Age replaced athleticism and now he writes appellate briefs for criminals (alleged criminals, of course) in state and federal cases, including writing U.S. Supreme Court briefs.

For years Cedric has researched and written about legal issues but maintained a love for sports. With FieldandCourt.com, he's combining his two passions: researching and writing about sports. When he's not in court arguing a case before a judge (or writing about himself in the third person), he'll be doing the same with his articles on FieldandCourt.com. Follow me, er, him on Twitter (opens in a new window).