Why former players are suing the NFL Players Association

Now that the NFL Concussion Settlement is close to being finalized, there is another concussion lawsuit that is working its way through the court system that targets the NFL Players Association.

Every player that filed a lawsuit against the NFL needs to get on board with this lawsuit. You can see how to do that at the end of this article.

In the lawsuit filed by four (4) top notch law firms based in Kansas City, Missouri, on behalf of a group of former NFL players, it states:

“As a direct result of the fraudulent concealment and misrepresentations by the NFLPA (Defendants), former players, including Plaintiffs, have for many decades been led to believe that the symptoms of early-onset dementia, ALS, CTE, loss of memory, headaches, confusion, and the inability to function were not caused by events that had occurred while they played in the NFL. And, as a result of this willful and malicious conduct, these former players, including Plaintiffs, were deprived of the ability to make an informed decision regarding continuing to play football or seek competent independent medical treatment and advice. In addition, these former players, including Plaintiffs, delayed seeking medical treatment, incurred expenses, lost employment, suffered humiliation, and sustained other damages to be specified.”

The justification for filing this lawsuit comes right from the mouths of the people that have run the NFLPA for the past 20 years.

At a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in 2009, DeMaurice Smith testified that “There is simply no justification for the NFL to have previously ignored or discredited Dr. Omalu and others with relevant, valid research. For far too long, our former players were left adrift, as I emphasized at the last hearing, we were complicit in the lack of leadership and accountability but that ends now.

You can’t say it any better than that!

Here are some of the other reasons we are suing the NFLPA – again, using their own words to condemn their actions:

• In 2007, Gene Upshaw, then-Executive Director of the NFLPA, stated “I think we’re just a reflection of society.” He further stated “I don’t want to take that next leap to say, you know, football caused dementia. I just don’t believe that.”

• With respect to the idea that a football player who sustains a concussion should not return to the same game in which the injury occurred and should be held out for at least one more game, Upshaw stated “The last thing that we want to do and the N.F.L. wants to do, and it’s the last thing I want to do as a union, is to mandate something that’s not medically proven. That’s why we have doctors.”

• After Andre Waters, a former safety for the Philadelphia Eagles, committed suicide, a neuropathologist said Waters’ depression might have been related to the concussions he sustained as a professional football player. In January 2007, Gene Upshaw, then-Executive Director of the NFLPA, sounded annoyed by Chris Nowinski’s assessment, according to one reporter, stating “I think everyone is getting a little riled up because this guy’s out there trying to sell this damn book,” an apparent reference to Nowinski’s book - Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis.

• In October 1999, Gene Upshaw, then-Executive Director of the NFLPA, stated “I don’t think you can legislate this. We in the NFL are very aware of this problem. Look at the position – normally, (the injured player) is the highest-paid player. We think we take every precaution.”

• Dr. Thomas Mayer, the NFLPA’s medical adviser, stated in January 2007 that “They’re protected as well as they can be. But this is a warrior mentality, this is a warrior sport.”

• In June 2007, NFLPA President Troy Vincent stated “I’m not sure if we – athletes – know what a concussion is.” In keeping with the theme of a warrior mentality where warriors should not question whether a concussion impacts their future health, Vincent stated “Who wants to come out of the game? No player wants to sit on the sidelines.”

• In December 2010, Dr. Mayer stated that the medical arm of the NFLPA had “a very close relationship when it comes to making sure we are protecting the players to the maximum degree possible with the NFL’s medical arm.”

• In November 2010, after the NFL fined players for what it determined were illegal hits to the head, Kevin Mawae, President of the NFLPA stated he would not support the NFL on the fines; “For the commissioner and for the NFL to say they are going to increase fines because hits seem to be vicious or violent -I think it’s ridiculous and I think the skirt needs to be taken off in the NFL offices.”

• In December 2008, in keeping with its alleged scheme of fraud and deceit, the NFLPA issued a letter on its letterhead to retirees stating that it was “supporting and endorsing” an NFL study of retired players and trying to determine if there are possible long-term effects on the brain from playing in the N.F.L.”

• The implication of the NFLPA’s December 2008 letter - that the question of long-term effects of concussive and sub-concussive hits on cognitive decline remained open despite decades of science to the contrary - mirrored the NFL’s pronouncement from a year and a half earlier in its concussion pamphlet, which stated “Current research with professional athletes has not shown that having more than one or two concussions leads to permanent problems if each injury is managed properly. It is important to understand that there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many. Research is currently underway to determine if there are any long-term effects of concussion[s] in NFL athletes.”

• Upshaw stated in January 2007 that “We all get alarmed when we see something like this,” in a reference to an article about Andre Waters. “But it’s not like we’ve been just sitting on our hands. That’s what’s being implied here, that no one is looking at this, that no one’s studying this, that no one cares about this. If that was true, I’m irresponsible and I haven’t been doing my job, and neither has the N.F.L.

It was true……….and they were irresponsible………and they weren't doing their jobs…… and now we can finally hold them accountable.

This lawsuit is the first and only lawsuit of its kind filed against the NFLPA and is being handled by lawyers with a great track record of success against major corporations. Several of the lawyers involved in this litigation have represented National Football League players on a personal basis for over 25 years.

Former NFL players that have filed concussion related lawsuits against the National Football League are welcome to join in this lawsuit against the NFLPA. I do not believe that there is any downside for players currently involved with the NFL concussion litigation to join the lawsuit against the NFLPA. Players involved in the NFL litigation may be able to recoup additional compensation against the NFLPA if this litigation is successful.

The lawyers for the NFL alums believe that the NFLPA had knowledge of the many dangers of concussions suffered by players in the National Football League during their careers and that this knowledge was concealed from the players and misrepresentations were made by the NFLPA to the players to keep them in the dark about the risks they took with repeated head trauma and returning to practice or game situations before it was medically prudent to do so.

Please, don’t sit back and expect this to happen without your participation. It is important that you act quickly in deciding whether to file a lawsuit. The law allows only a set amount of time to bring a cause of action for injury. To avoid attempts by the NFLPA to exclude plaintiffs, any players with symptoms should file as soon as possible.

If you are interested in joining me and other former players, just go to the website of the attorneys that filed this lawsuit on our behalf and begin the process of retaining their services. Here is the link: http://www.NFLInjuryLawsuits.com

There is strength in numbers and I believe that, if a large volume of players assert these claims against the NFLPA, this case will be treated very seriously by the NFLPA and their counsel.

Let’s fight back……

Let’s get some justice……

Let’s git er done!

Duerson Family Lawyer Threatens to Appeal Concussion Settlement

Tom Demetrio, the lawyer for Dave Duerson’s estate has threatened to appeal the NFL Concussion Settlement if he doesn’t get his way at the November 19th Fairness Hearing in front of Judge Anita Brody.

As you know, former players had the right to opt out of the agreement and continue their litigation against the NFL if they filed a notice of intent by October 14, 2014. It is important to note that Dave Duerson’s family did not opt out of the Settlement, which means they will still be eligible to receive $2.3 million dollars under the Settlement. Tom Demetrio could stand to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars of that award as his fee.

But that’s not enough for Demetrio. He has objected to the settlement and insisted that Judge Brody NFL lawyers and our lawyers go back to the drawing board. And even if Judge Brody rejects his objection, Demetrio has already announced his intention to appeal to the Third Circuit – and hold up approval of the settlement for many more months, if not longer.

In a recent interview he said “I chose to object because if Judge Brody fails to say no settlement ... then we have thankfully the appellate process. We're objecting strongly, and if Brody approves this — which I would not be surprised if she does — but if she does, we're going to keep going to the Third Circuit (appeals court)."

Read that quote again. Tom Demetrio has just threatened every single retired player, along with a federal Judge! He has threatened that he will endanger this settlement for all of us if he does not get his way.

If you ask me, it’s a bad idea to display such disrespect for the very same Judge who has repeatedly stood up for our rights—and improved the settlement in the process. But then again, it isn’t Demetrio who will suffer if the settlement is held up for years under appeal.

Of course, we all know who stands to lose big if the settlement is delayed: the many retired players who are suffering today and have waited long enough for the benefits promised by this settlement. Not to mention the thousands more that actuaries predict will get sick in the future, or the rest of us (including me) who are eager to take advantage of the settlement’s free baseline assessments.

And here’s the best part: Demetrio admits that those who have opted out and continue litigating face the risk that their case will be “sent to an arbitrator pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement.”  Duh........ That’s one of the main reasons our lawyers negotiated a Settlement in the first place – the Judge might have thrown our case out!  She said that herself when she gave the Settlement preliminary approval and said that in addition to the CBA Preemption issue “Plaintiffs also would face hurdles in proving their case-in-chief. If the litigation were to continue, Plaintiffs would be required to demonstrate that retired players’ injuries were caused by NFL football play, as opposed to unrelated causes, the natural aging process, or concussions or sub-concussive hits experienced in youth or college football. Therefore, the significant legal challenges facing Plaintiffs support preliminary approval of the proposed Settlement.”

So, to recap: Tom Demetrio acknowledges the very same legal challenges that make this settlement such an important (if imperfect) victory. He thinks that Judge Brody will likely rule against his objections. Finally, he is fully aware that many retired players are suffering and need the money provided by this deal now. But then he arrogantly says he will appeal the thing anyway!

Here’s the bottom line for me: If the NFL Concussion Settlement is approved and an appeal is filed, uncertainty will reign: there is no telling how long it will take for the Courts to deal with the appeal. But there is one thing that is absolutely certain. The compensation that would have gone to the former players that are in most need – those with moderate or severe dementia, ALS, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease - will be delayed.

An overwhelming number of former players want this Settlement to go through and I think there’s a good reason for that. Actuaries for both the NFL and former players showed that approximately 6,000 of us will eventually develop cognitive impairments that will be compensated under this settlement. Additionally, most former players want to make sure that money gets into the hands of the guys that need it the most – as soon as possible.

You can read some of the comments by former players at this link: http://www.playerinjury.com/discussion/

It’s time for lawyers to stop threatening to take our football away if they don’t get their way - and any former player that hears the “A” word (appeal) needs to run as far and fast as they can from the lawyer that uses it.

The NFL = Not For Long!

I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play in the NFL, but like most players it ended due to injuries I sustained during my playing days.

I can't help but wonder how many players that were injured in Pop Warner, High School and College - and never got the chance to play in the NFL - could have been the next Andre Reed, Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith or Thurman Thomas. 

I wanted to be the next Paul Krause.........the next Dick "Night Train" Lane.  Intercepting passes was my forte. I had 23 career interceptions in college and I wanted to be right up there with the all-time great defensive backs in the NFL.   

I had some early success in the NFL, but I never had a chance to show what I could have done if I had played for a long time. In my very first game as a starter we played the Minnesota Vikings. This was Paul Krause's last season in the NFL.  He's a Hall of Famer that played 15 years! 

The announcers for this 1979 game said I had a great future in the NFL. They said the same thing in 1980  when I was leading the National Football League in interceptions  with 5 in the first 4 games, but as I soon found out, the NFL also stands for "Not For Long" and in the 5th game of that season I injured my knee in a game against the San Diego Chargers - an injury that would haunt me for the next 4 years and eventually end my playing days in the NFL.

Unfortunately, injuries take most players away from the game they love to play. It's impossible to know what would have happened if I had remained injury free.  I often wonder how some players can play 8 or more years in the NFL without getting a "career" ending injury.  Is it fate....luck.....skill? 

The answer is none of the above.

The truth is, the NFL is a violent game and players are going to get injured no matter what they do or how well they are conditioned. Some players beat the odds, but like most gamblers - and we are gambling that we won't get hurt - the house (the NFL) always comes out ahead. The NFL has an ample supply of bodies waiting in the ranks to take the place of a gladiator that has gone down. The show must go on...........and it does!

I have to admit that it bothers me when fans, announcers and writers say a player just can't seem to stay "healthy" - as if we we had the flu or some virus that was keeping us out of the game.   Most players are much healthier than the general population because it was our job to be in top physical condition.  I also scoff at the suggestion that certain players are injury prone. To a certain degree, that might be true if a player is getting leg cramps or pulled muscles because they aren't stretching properly, or their conditioning is not up to par, but don't confuse that type of injury with a broken bone, a ligament stretch or tear, hip pointers, turf toes, neck, back, knee, arm, wrist, ankle, shoulder and thigh injuries - and lets not forget the most devastating injury of all..... concussions. 

Last week, almost 300 players were listed on the NFL's injury report as being Out, Doubtful, Questionable or Probable. You can see the list at this link:  NFL Injury Report   

Every season, hundreds of players sustain injuries that eventually become what are commonly referred to as career ending injuries. No one likes to think about that - especially the players. I'm not even sure if it should be called a "career" ending injury because no one really has a career in the NFL. The average player last about 3 to 5  years in the NFL - not much of a career by any stretch of the imagination.    

Today's players have a better chance of extending their playing days because surgical techniques and treatment protocols have significantly improved.   We were the guinea pigs for the NFL.  My first injury - a medial collateral ligament stretch - could have been easily repaired in today's NFL via an arthroscopic surgery. It could have lengthened my career, but that procedure was not available when I played.  Instead, I have two 12 inch "zippers" on my left knee from a surgery that ended my "stint" in the NFL. 

For those that make it to the professional football level, I have this one small piece of advice.  Start preparing today for your "real career" after football because the NFL is Not For Long.

"Fame is a Vapor, Riches Take Wings.........the only thing that endures is Character." -  Saying from a poster that my Buffalo Bills Trainer, Eddie (Abe) Abramowski had next to his taping station.            




As I’m sure some of you have noticed, the 7 objectors to the settlement—and their attorneys—have been making a lot of noise lately. It seems that, after the Third Circuit refused to hear their appeal, they are now waging a media and email blitz to try and recruit more objectors or opt outs. I’m sure that I am not the only one to have come across their misleading arguments in the last few days.

If you ask me, the fact that the objectors have resorted to such tactics means that they are grasping at straws. The Third Circuit Court has already denied their legal arguments, so now they are attempting to create confusion and unrest among retired players in hopes of undermining a settlement that so many retired players will need to rely upon, either today or in the future.

It’s only the latest time the settlement has come under attack by this tiny group of retired players and their lawyers who tried to speak for all of us, even though they didn’t join the thousands who stepped up and sued the league in the first place.

The worst part is that these provocative, misleading tactics aren’t even necessary. Judge Brody has already said that she intends to give the objectors’ arguments fair and thorough consideration at the fairness hearing this November. If after that hearing she determines that the settlement is not fair, reasonable and adequate for ALL of us, then she will act to make things right—just like she did in January.

For now, however, the most important decision about this settlement is ours to make. Retired players should not opt out of this deal. This settlement isn’t perfect, but it’s still a very good deal that gives us a far better outcome than we could have ever hoped to get by continuing to litigate.

Let’s not forget the NFL’s own actuaries have told us. They predict that retired players have a nearly 3 in 10 chance of developing dementia or worse. As I wrote last month: “Under this agreement, we all get medical assessments to help us reduce that risk if at all possible. The 3 in 10 of us who end up getting sick, get paid. The 7 in 10 of us who don’t should be counting our lucky stars that we didn’t get sick!”

In light of those statistics, “opting out” means nothing less than taking the risk of a lifetime. Those who opt out will be permanently, totally forbidden from collecting benefits under this agreement. They will then face the full might of the NFL’s well-paid legal team, and they will do so alone—without the strength-in-numbers that helped us get this settlement in the first place.

And you don’t have to take this from me: Arthur Miller, a law professor at New York University, warned players about the risks of opting out or objecting in a recent op-ed:

“For any player to opt out of this settlement and pursue litigation on his own seems foolish. It is highly likely that anyone going it alone would lose in court and end up with nothing. And although opt-outs and objections are common in class-action settlements, any unsuccessful objector who appeals would hold up benefits for every retired player.”

It looks like the retired player community agrees. According to court records, only 9 former players have opted out of the NFL Concussion Settlement. Let me repeat that: 9 opt outs. Out of 20,000 class members. That’s a tiny .00045% of the settlement class - a pretty strong indication that the vast majority of former players are in favor of the Settlement.

I fully respect the right of every retired player to make his own choice, but I also feel a duty to voice my opinion, which is that opting out is the wrong decision.

This settlement may not give us everything, but it does give us everything we fought for when we began this lawsuit. I am afraid that those who try and fight for more will risk losing it all.

If you would like to comment on this issue, please go to the open forum and post your thoughts at the following website: http://www.playerinjury.com/discussion/

Check out what some of your teammates have already said.  

The NFL Engagement Zone: Resources for Former NFL Players

Dear NFL Alumni:

The NFL Engagement Zone is an invitation-only social network – a forum for current and former NFL players and student-athletes, and a place to find resources specific to athletes’ needs. The Engagement Zone lets current and former NFL players communicate among themselves and share resources and ideas. By staying in contact with one another and with NFL Player Engagement staff on a private network, we can learn from one another and benefit from Player Engagement programs and resources. Here is a link to the website where you can request an invite:  NFL Engagement Zone: Request Invite.

The NFL also has a Player Engagement website where former players can go to find out about new programs and listen to what other former players are saying and doing in their communities. Here is a link to that web page: NFL Player Engagement - Next: Former Players.

I often get emails from wives that want to get more involved with activities, share their experiences,  and learn from other wives. In response to the concerns of former player’s wives, the NFL has established the WRI (Women’s Resource Initiative). Here is a link to that web page: NFL Women's Resource Initiative.

I am also providing a link to the 2014 -2015 Legends Community Resource Guide. It is the most comprehensive listing and summary of programs and services that are available to former players. You should save the Guide to you computer desktop and if possible, share it with all your alumni brothers. Here is the link: 2014-2015 Legends Community Resource Guide.

Lastly,  I would like to note that NFL Player Engagement posts articles from former players on Sportsblog.com - This very website.  I've been the top pro player blogger here (receiving the most site visits) for quite some time now. Hey, if I don't toot my own horn..........nobody will.

Your alumni brother,

Jeff Nixon            

I hope that this information will be of some benefit to you and your family.