The Pro Football Concussion Report

A Fan's Look at Head Injuries and the Concussion Crisis in Football

What About Bob?

Cowboy Great Bob Lilly is a Plaintiff   (AP)


Bob Lilly is suing the NFL and Jerry Jones hasn’t mentioned it? And nobody’s even asked? For the April 9th courtroom showdown in Philly between the NFL and over 4,000 former players who are suing the league, the media spotlight was able to easily find lawyers, plaintiffs and families of plaintiffs. But in over a year of intense media coverage including TV pieces on CBS, HBO, ESPN, magazine articles in Sports Illustrated, Forbes, The Atlantic and a number of major market newspaper articles, the voice of the real defendant, the 32 NFL team owners, has been mysteriously absent.

Sure, we know that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is always good for a quote about the league making safety its highest priority (of course it is, we all know that). And there’s no shortage of statements from the NFL’s go-to academic, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient Kevin Guskiewicz, PhD about the importance of teaching proper tackling techniques to America’s youth (yes, that’s the problem – you hit the nail on the head, Mike Webster could have avoided CTE had he only learned proper tackling technique as a youngster).  Additionally, NFL neurosurgeon-in-charge Richard Ellenbogen MD, Seattle Seahawks Team Physician Stanley Herring MD, and Princeton Head Team Physician Margot Putukian MD are usually available for TV cameras and professional conferences to provide the company line minimizing any connection between football and long term brain damage or extolling the virtues of using certified athletic trainers to treat athletes with potential brain damage.

On the plaintiffs side, former All-Pro lineman Kyle Turley will gamely try to work “encephalopathy” into a song lyric and tragically, there are a few widows and children of deceased NFL players that make themselves available for press junkets.

What seems to be missing though are the ideas and opinions of the 32 NFL team owners. You mean Jerry Jones doesn’t have an opinion regarding the 252 former Dallas Cowboys suing him?  Not even about these guys – Jethro Pugh, Mel Renfro, Tony Dorsett, Charlie Waters, Randy White, Craig Morton, Lee Roy Jordan and the prototypical 1960’s American football player and Dallas Cowboy, Hall of Famer Bob Lilly. Shocking.

And what about John Mara? His family has been passing down the family football team since before concussions were even invented. (technically, dementia pugilistica was first invented by 1900’s boxer Jack Johnson, or at least first caused by him). But seriously, George Martin, Ottis Anderson, Leonard Marshall  and Jeff Hostetler are all suing the NFL and the first family of football has no comment?

Where’s Al Davis when you need him? The Mad Stork Ted Hendricks, Kenny Stabler, Raymond Chester, Dave Casper and Phil Villipiano are all suing and there’s no combative (and quotable) Al Davis around to go to war with.

Carolina owner Jerry Richardson even played with some of the plaintiffs. Several of his teammates from the 1959 champion Baltimore Colts have joined the litigation including running back and former broadcaster Alex Hawkins. As a broadcaster in the 70’s, Hawkins reportedly noted on the air to his announcing partner Vin Sculley (and America), that  Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach “kinda runs like a sissy.” Ironically, Scully then asked Hawkins if he “ever played without a helmet.” But still, Richardson’s available to ask a few Charlotte city council officials for stadium money, but not a word on concussions.

Arthur Blank, Clark Hunt, Jim Irsay, Pat Bowlen, Woody Johnson, Jimmy Haslam, Jed York, Bud Adams, Stephen Ross, Tom Benson, Bryan Glazer, etc. all enjoying the spoils of the game they run or the game their pops ran, but not a word on the biggest lawsuit in the history of professional sports. Probably just too focused on the important things. “Woody, what do you think of this Tebow situation?”


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