April 22, 2012

Putting a Face on the NFL Brain Injury Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The Washington Post published a helpful story this week on one of the former National Football League players who is part of the high-profile traumatic brain injury lawsuit that have been filed against the league. Our Illinois brain injury lawyers appreciate that it is important to ensure that the personal stories behind large lawsuits like these be shared. Of course the legal arguments about liability, causes, and damage will dictate how these cases shake out. But it is still necessary to understand how these injuries have actually affected the lives of the players involved.

One of the most high-profile defendants is a former All-Pro defensive lineman, Alex Karras. The former athlete gained widespread popularity beyond his football days for acting roles after he retired. Karras played a father in the 1980s sitcom Webster and was the popular character Mongo in the classic movie “Blazing Saddles.”

But the damage of his years in the NFL took their toll. Karras is now 76 years old and suffering for severe dementia. According to the brain injury lawsuit in which he’s joined, the injuries he is experiencing now were caused in part by the inadequate safety measures and warnings of the NFL during his playing days.

It is hard to underestimate the effect of the injuries on his life. Karras’s wife explains that her husband loved cars, but he is unable to get behind the wheel anymore as a result of his condition. In addition, he used to be a formidable cook, specializing in Italian and Greek food. No longer. He cannot remember any recipes and so usually stays out of the kitchen.

Karras is just one of 1,200 former NFL players participating in the current lawsuit against the NFL. The group has made a variety of claims, essentially suggesting that the NFL mislead players about the risks they were exposing themselves to when on the field during games and practices. Many of those players are now facing the severe consequences of the repeated head collisions, now suffering with brain damage. Unfortunately, these harms are particularly damaging because the consequences are usually permanent with medical professionals able to do little to reverse the damage.

Another player in the suit is former Chicago Super Bowl quarterback Jim McMahon. He explained that he sometimes has trouble remember where he lives, and so his girlfriend has to program his house into the GPS in case he gets lost. During a recent interview McMahon explained, “I won’t remember a hell of a lot about this interview in about 10 minutes.”

Our Chicago head injury lawyers appreciate that severe consequences faced by these former players. We have worked with many local families who have had loved ones forced to deal with the myriad of challenges that brain injuries bring. Most fail to appreciate the consequences until they are dealing with it themselves. As this story explains, the former NFL players are forced to deal with these injuries in silence as the league and fans may not pay as much attention to their suffering after their playing days are over.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Head Injury Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Ex-Football Players

Former Illinois Athletes File Brain Injury Lawsuit Against Eastern Illinois University