Injured Jim McMahon enjoying the spotlight with Johnny Carson (AP)
While the allegations in the recent drug lawsuit against the NFL, Richard Dent, et al. v. NFL reinforce the perspective of the NFL as a big, bad organization who cares little for the health and well-being of their employees, the lawsuit does not quite match-up to the onslaught of arrows that the concussion lawsuits brought.
Paul Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle, 1989 (AP)
Although Roger Goodell has become the face of the NFL’s concussion strategy, most of the allegations in the concussion lawsuits actually occurred while Washington D.C. “anti-trust lawyer” Paul Tagliabue worked for the owners as commissioner of the NFL. In 1989, Tagliabue was chosen by the team owners over Saints executive Jim Finks and former Green Bay Packer Willie Davis to lead the NFL. He held the position until 2007 when Roger Goodell took over. While Tagliabue’s business acumen helped expand the popularity of the NFL to unprecedented levels, it was his legal acumen honed over a 20 year career at Washington D.C. law firm Covington & Burling that served to indemnify the league and add a sophisticated layer of risk management to the multi-billion dollar NFL business.
Last year, the Associate Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Division of Advertising Practices, attorney Mary Engle, sent a letter to an attorney representing Riddell Sports Group, Inc. informing him that as a result of an FTC investigation into misleading advertising related to its Revolution® football helmets, the FTC has decided to “not to recommend enforcement action.”
Greg McElroy was sacked 11 times in his only NFL start (AP)
Two weeks ago, Greg McElroy announced his retirement from football after 3 seasons. Actually though, the last regular season game he ever played in was with the Jets in 2012 when he was sacked 11 times and suffered a concussion that was not revealed until four days later.
In his only professional start, for the Jets against the San Diego Chargers December 23, 2012, McElroy was sacked 11 times and according to media reports, none of the Jets medical staff or coaches ever noticed anything wrong with his head. Several days later, McElroy admitted that he had suffered a concussion during the game. He didn’t play his following scheduled start and was cut by the Jets during the 2013 preseason.
Ray Easterling would call my partner Larry (Coben) quite frequently . . . ”I can’t handle it, it’s not going to work.” Try as we may, he committed suicide. ~ Sol Weiss, co-lead counsel NFL concussion litigation
Former Atlanta Falcon Safety Ray Easterling was part of the first group of former players to file a concussion lawsuit against the NFL. He committed suicide 8 months after his lawsuit was filed. Easterling’s attorney, Sol Weiss, was one of several speakers at a sports law symposium (43:55 mark ) at Villanova University School of Law on Friday, March 21.
Woody Johnson, Elliot Pellman & Bill Parcells - Training Camp, 2000. (AP)
The 3 year old NFL concussion litigation has helped spread a floodlight over NFL issues on the field and off the field. Former players, medical researchers, NFL executives, equipment manufacturers, lawyers and media all have told the story and become part of the story. Today we create the Pro Football Concussion Litigation Hall of Fame. Dedicated to the people, places and things that have made this story so compelling. Our first inductee is rheumatologist Dr. Elliot Pellman, former New York Jets team doctor, head of the NFL’s MTBI committee 1994-2007, and current NFL Medical Advisor.
Dr. Ann McKee with the brain of 45 yr. old former Houston Oiler John Grimsley (Vernon Doucette - BU)
I’m from a small town in Wisconsin. NFL headquarters is on Park Avenue. You get photographed and IDed on the way in. You’re taken to this big mahogany boardroom with Vince Lombardi posters everywhere and a bunch of men sitting around a big table. I insisted Chris come. It was intimidating. I was the only woman. There was a lot of testosterone in the room. They were very skeptical. One of them said I was making up the disease. They were polite, but you felt like it was falling on deaf ears. ~ Dr. Ann McKee, Neuropathologist – Boston Umiversity, on her first presentation to the NFL in 2009