SBD/June 3, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Dan Marino Plans To Withdraw His Name From Latest Concussion Lawsuit Against NFL

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Marino would have been the highest-profile former player to sue the NFL
Pro Football HOFer Dan Marino intends to "withdraw from a lawsuit against the NFL for concussions" that was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, according to Dave Hyde of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. The move comes less than a day after reports had Marino joining 14 other former players "to sue the league." A source said, "It was never Marino's intention to initiate litigation in this case, but to ensure that in the event he had adverse health consequences down the road, he would be covered with health benefits." Hyde reports Marino and his attorneys are "attempting to discover how Marino's name was joined to the lawsuit" (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 6/3).

INITIAL REPORT: In Miami, Adam Beasley in a front-page piece reported the lawsuit against the NFL headed by Marino alleged "fraudulent concealment and negligence." The action "comes nine months after the league and some 4,500 ex-players settled a massive lawsuit" for $765M -- which critics have called "far short of satisfactory." Marino "claims damages resulting from long-term and chronic injuries and financial loss due to his employment in the NFL." He seeks "awards of compensatory damages, punitive damages and relief for medical monitoring." While this lawsuit's action is "separate from the larger filing, both cases are being handled by the same Philadelphia-based law firm," Anapol Schwartz (MIAMI HERALD, 6/3). In L.A., Nathan Fenno reported no "specific symptoms are alleged" for Marino, as "boilerplate language is used in Marino’s short-form complaint." One is "submitted for each plaintiff." At least 41 members of the HOF, or their estates, now are "among about 5,000 former players suing" the league (L.A. TIMES, 6/3). Former NFLer Keith Sims, who already was part of the larger lawsuit, said, "I’m not in it to try to get millions of dollars from the NFL. I want the medical coverage and I want to help the less fortunate players that are really struggling. I’m sure it’s the same kind of thing with Dan.” But Sims acknowledged that Marino’s name "could help the lawsuit." Sims: “Obviously, his name is out there more than anybody else’s right now" (PALM BEACH POST, 6/3).

RECOGNIZABLE FACE TO LEAD EFFORTS: SI.com's Michael McCann noted Marino by joining the litigation "arguably becomes the most prominent ex-star to take on the league." For young NFL fans, many of the retired players suing the NFL are "older men who played in unfamiliar eras." However, Marino's broadcasting and endorsement career makes him "instantly recognizable to all fans and thus might catapult him to a celebrity role among plaintiffs." Marino's lawsuit "emphasizes how NFL coaches allegedly instructed players to tackle and block with their helmets, thereby increasing damage to players' brains." Like other concussion lawsuits, Marino's also "portrays NFL physicians as willfully promoting false science to obscure the link between playing football, concussions and long-term neurological injury" (SI.com, 6/2). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said, “This is about the last guy in the world I was expecting to be a part of this. I’m not going to use the word ‘game-changer’ because I don’t think anything changes the game at this stage, in this process. But it certainly took me by surprise.” ESPN’s Merril Hoge: “Dan Marino joining that, maybe he stimulates that we get the right message out there, but it doesn’t change the National Football League” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 6/3).

MORE CREDIBILITY FOR LAWSUITS: BLEACHER REPORT's Mike Freeman wrote under the header, "Dan Marino Joining Concussion Lawsuit Changes Everything." Eric Dickerson and Tony Dorsett are among the HOFers who are part of the lawsuits against the NFL, but with "all due respect to stunning talents like Dickerson, an eternal name like Marino's puts this lawsuit into an entirely different stratosphere." There is now an "increased level of credibility," and Marino's name "won't be so easy for the skeptics to dismiss." Freeman: "What Marino's name also does is take this issue deeper into mainstream America. Sure, people know Dickerson, but Marino is still a household name" (BLEACHERREPORT.com, 6/2).

DAN IN REAL LIFE: THE MMQB's Peter King writes a "popular theory floating around" yesterday was that Marino "would never have joined the suit -- and been the only star player in it -- if he hadn’t been canned by CBS as part of its 'NFL Today' show earlier this year." But Marino is "talking to the Dolphins right now about joining the team’s front office in some capacity," which "somehow seems worse than suing the league while in a broadcasting NFL network studio." King: "How welcoming ... is owner Stephen Ross going to be with Marino now? Will he wonder if he wants to get in business with a man suing his parent company?" Marino is about the "last guy most of us ever expected to see sue the NFL, claiming it hid what it knew about concussions, potentially seriously damaging his short- and long-term health." His inclusion in the suit could be a "damaging one for the NFL, seeing that Marino’s always been held up as one of the league’s cornerstone players and leading stars at a time NFL popularity was exploding" (MMQB.SI.com, 6/3). Meanwhile, ESPN's Ed Werder said, “As somebody told me, this is not going to help Dan Marino get a job with the Dolphins when he’s suing the NFL” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/3).
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