Scores of lawsuits involving thousands of former players touched by concussions and brain injuries have been consolidated into one master complaint, setting up a massive and potentially costly case for the NFL.
Lawyers for the players filed the complaint Thursday in Philadelphia, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries. Among the illnesses cited were dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from those health problems.
“The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions,’’ said Kevin Turner, a former running back with the Patriots and Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have.’’
Also named in the suit was helmet-maker Riddell, Inc. The suit accuses the NFL of “mythologizing’’ and glorifying violence through the media, including its NFL Films division.
In response, the NFL cited the many health programs it runs for current and former players, and a series of medical benefits to former NFL players to help them after football.
“The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so,’’ the league said in a statement. “Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit.’’
The list of notable former players connected to concussion lawsuits is extensive and includes the family of Dave Duerson, who shot himself last year. According to an AP review of 81 lawsuits, the plaintiffs include 2,138 former players. The total number of plaintiffs is 3,356, which includes players, spouses, and other relatives or representatives.
New offer for Brees
The Saints have made a new contract offer to star quarterback Drew Brees, said a person familiar with the situation. The source did not provide details about financial changes in the offer, but added, “as always, there is a lot to get through and no deal is imminent.’’ The Saints have placed their one-year franchise tag on Brees, barring him from negotiating with other teams. Brees has said he wants to remain in New Orleans but has skipped voluntary practices and minicamp while holding out for a long-term deal . . . Joe Banner has stepped down as president of the Philadelphia Eagles and will take on an advisory role while he pursues other opportunities in the NFL. Banner will be succeeded as president by chief operating officer Don Smolenski. Both Banner and owner Jeffery Lurie said it was a mutual decision, disputing any suggestion that Banner was pushed out in a power struggle with general manager Howie Roseman and coach Andy Reid.
Banks gets invite
Brian Banks, wrongly imprisoned for five years on rape charges, is making the most of his tryout with the Seahawks. Banks, 26, impressed Seattle coach Pete Carroll enough that he received an invitation to participate in a formal tryout next week during Seattle’s mandatory offseason minicamp. “This is by far the second-best day of my life - May 24, my day of exoneration, and today,’’ Banks said. “Just being out here on the field and work out with the Seahawks and to be given an opportunity to have a tryout, I don’t really have words for it. I know a lot of people work hard to get to this point. I’ve worked hard myself and I’m just thankful for this opportunity.’’ While impressed with his raw athleticism, Carroll acknowledged that Banks is not refined to the level of an NFL linebacker and whatever expectations are placed on Banks need to reflect his lack of football schooling during the last 10 years . . . The Jaguars released oft-injured defensive end Aaron Kampman, five days before the start of a mandatory, three-day minicamp. Kampman has missed 28 games over the last three seasons while playing for Jacksonville and Green Bay, including 13 last year . . . A spokesman for the Cleveland Browns said the team is not for sale, refuting a report the NFL franchise might be on the market. Neal Gulkis, the team’s vice president of media relations, denied a report by Philadelphia radio personality Howard Eskin, who posted on his Twitter page that Banner is putting together a group to buy the Buffalo Bills, and that the Browns and St. Louis Rams may also be for sale.
Jacobs fan chips in
New 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs received a letter this week from a 6-year-old Giants fan named Joseph that included $3.36 in cash from the boy’s piggy bank - the child’s contribution to try to keep Jacobs in New York with the reigning Super Bowl champions.
The boy’s mother, Julie Armento, wrote that she explained to her son that the Giants didn’t have enough money to bring Jacobs back on a new contract, thus prompting her son’s gesture.
“I got the letter a couple of days ago and it meant a whole lot to me,’’ said Jacobs, who was released by the Giants in March after failing to work out a restructured contract. “That’s a special thing, and I wish every athlete could get that feeling. That definitely meant a lot for him to do that.’’