Lawsuit Regarding Head Injuries Could "Doom Or Save" The NFL
With a lawsuit being filed against the NFL "on behalf of more than 4,000 former players and their wives," the league faces a "legal battle that represents the most serious threat to the viability of big-time football since an outbreak of fatal skull fractures back in the leather-helmet days," according to a cover story by Paul Barrett of BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK. The litigation could "still metastasize and become life-threatening to the game if the NFL chooses to draw out the court fight rather than seek a swift resolution." A protracted battle could "provide the plaintiffs’ lawyers with an opportunity to reveal sordid details about a period during which they allege the NFL intentionally obfuscated evidence of the long-term brain damage suffered by its willing gladiators." If this is "true, and if the ugly particulars are played out in depositions, internal documents, and court testimony, such a legacy could alienate fans already uneasy about the suicides of former players such as Dave Duerson, Andre Waters, and Junior Seau, all of whom suffered from neurodegenerative brain disease linked to concussions." Beyond the present litigation, the NFL "faces a more ominous longer-term question." New research "suggests the peril players face may not be limited to car wreck hits." It may extend to the "relentless, day-in-and-day-out collisions that are the essence of the game." Settling the litigation "still might not resolve the conundrum facing football, its players, and, ultimately, its fans." A mainstream "financial juggernaut, the NFL could, like boxing before it, drift toward the margins if researchers reveal that gridiron collisions are even more dangerous than we now know." Given the "deep loyalty football engenders at all levels of play -- a far more profound role than boxing ever enjoyed -- it’s hard to imagine a comparable decline in popularity" (BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, 2/4 issue).