News about football-related traumatic brain injuries has continued unabated over the past few days. The suicide death of former star Junio Seau made headlines as many have speculated that the incident was caused in part by a brain injury. Seau shot himself in the chest, and his family has said that they would donate his brain to science to understand whether he did have an injury.
Seau’s death is just the latest in a string of issues related to brain injuries in players and what the league was doing to keep players safe. Of course, the game includes some inherent risks. However, the legal issues related to the pending lawsuit against the NFL center on what the league could have done to warn players and limit risks. There has been much criticism about the ways that the league and certain teams have handled the issue.
Those criticisms were likely at play in the very harsh penalties recently doled out by the league against a team-the New Orleans Saints-for a “bounty program”. According to reports the team, including some coaches and players, had an internal program where cash rewards were given to players for knocking opponents out of the game with injuries. This program apparently was in place from 2009-2011. The head coach of the team has been suspended for a year, another coach has been suspended indefinitely, and several players have also faced severe penalties.
As a recent Chicago Tribune article explained, “the bounty scandal is a black eye for a league that has been focusing on player safety as they face lawsuits from hundreds of former players who suffered concussions.”
Of course, our Chicago brain injury lawyers, appreciate that having a program in place on a team specifically rewarding players for physically hurting other players goes beyond any reasonable bounds. There is no justification for seeking financial reward for serious injuries. That sort of conduct cannot be part of the game. Considering the information that is coming out about the long-term risks of all football injuries caused by traumatic hits, it is simply unacceptable for this sort of conduct to be tolerated at any level.
While most local residents will not play in the NFL themselves or even have loved ones one a professional team, many local families have young athletes on football fields every year, often in school-related sports activities. The same basic issues of safety and protection apply in those settings as they do at the professional level. Coaches, administrators, athlete trainers, and others involved in these situations have to take basic steps to keep student-athletes safe in games and practices. That includes recognizing potential injuries when they occur and ensuring proper treatment and rest are received. Failure in this regard could be a sign of negligence that leads to significant harm to the players involved.
If you or a loved one may have been injured because of the misconduct of others, it is crucial families involved learn about their legal options. Sometimes that is the only way to ensure the injured athlete will have access to the long-term care or treatment options necessary to fully recover.
See Our Related Blog Posts: