ABC News reports that more than “2,000 former NFL players plan to file a lawsuit this morning in Philadelphia, accusing the league of concealing information linking football-related injuries to long-term brain damage.”
In the biggest sports lawsuit ever, the former players allege that the “NFL exacerbated the health risk by promoting the game’s violence” and “deliberately and fraudulently” misled players about the link between concussions and long-term brain injuries.
The NFL denies the claims, saying, “Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.”
But with some of the sport’s household names now revealing the human price paid for all those on-field heroics, this lawsuit could change football forever.
“It’s America’s favorite sport and its favorite athletes and now we’re hearing about the dark side,” USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan said. “It really hits like a ton of bricks.”
There is, of course, also a psychological dark side related to these health risks. Following the recent suicide of Junior Seau, 43-year-old former NFL player who shot himself in the chest last month, CommonHealth wrote about the deep loss than can occur when players of all kinds lose their sport. When players stop playing, how do they deal with the psychological and emotional stress of that loss, which can quickly slip into a loss of self, depression and worse?
It is estimated that about 20 percent of athletes need “considerable psychological adjustment” after they leave the sport, she said. “They face challenges with their athlete identity: Who am I if I’m not an athlete? Your peers change because you’re not with the same group. Your body changes and it often becomes less fit.”
“You don’t necessarily have a plan outside of your sport,” she added, “and that can be very disconcerting, to be so goal-oriented your whole life and then just have to walk away and move on to a new goal. When you haven’t planned out what that goal is, you can feel lost.”