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NFL lawsuit lingers like the effects of the concussions that spurred it

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Concussions occur every week in most NFL games. There’s always a severe hit or two that winds up being discussed weekly and reviewed by the league; unfortunately a lot more concussions occur but never come to light. According to an ESPN special on concussions in the NFL, several players admitted that they’ve experienced concussions at least 20 times during their career. One of the most difficult issues that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his front office have to face is the reality that concussions cannot be entirely avoided in a physical game like football.

In the wake of retired linebacker Junior Seau’s suicide, the NFL has been criticized with regard to its seeming inability to prioritize players’ health and well-being. According to ESPN, over 2,000 families of former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the NFL last Thursday. Their goal is to explore the link between football and brain injuries, which, according to the committee representing these families, the NFL denies.

Concussions were a big topic in the NFL even before Seau’s death. Who can forget Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, who suffered a concussion at the helmet-to-helmet hit by James Harrison of the Steelers? The injury became a national headline due to the amount of neglect the team showed towards his injury, especially when coaches sent him back into the game after just two plays. The Akron Beacon Journal reported that McCoy told the Dan Patrick Show that he doesn’t even remember the collision. His father probably does. After the game, he told the Plain Dealer, "He was basically out (cold) after the hit. You could tell by the ridigity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his (left) hand."

The main argument in this debate is whether or not effects from these concussions continue months or even years after the initial effects of the hit. McCoy assured his coaches and Browns fans that he feels 100 percent, but others are doubtful. Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat, an undrafted free agent by the Browns, retired about a month ago even though he never put on an NFL uniform. According to Sweat, the three concussions he suffered at OSU have had lingering effects on his everyday life.

It took Sweat falling in the shower and hitting his head to realize that he had to walk away from football for good. Unfortunately, many active NFL players continue to deny any physical trauma that they’ve suffered from concussions, but if you’ve suffered any of these symptoms after a hit on the gridiron, seek medical attention immediately:

  • forgetfulness
  • learning difficulties
  • difficulty concentrating
  • tiredness/fatigue
  • headaches/pain
  • impaired judgment
  • personality changes, including impulsive or aggressive behavior or outbursts
  • problems with organization
  • restlessness/difficulty sleeping

As traumatic brain injury attorney Peter Weinberger states, “Any brain injury is an extremely serious matter that can impact the victim for many years, if not a lifetime. No matter how your brain injury happened or what level of severity it may be, it is important for you to seek medical attention for a thorough analysis. Having a complete record of your injury and the treatment you received can help to establish a pattern of the medical issues you encountered and the progression of your injuries.”