TOLEDO, Ohio – The surprising March 16 announcement by 24-year-old Chris Borland, star linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, that he will retire after one season in the National Football League because he fears long-term health issues could impact the future of the country’s most popular spectator sport, according to Toledo attorney Norman Abood.
“It’s the beginning of a trend that could possibly decrease the popularity of the sport,” Abood said.
Abood’s concern involves his participation in a class action suit against the NFL by more than 20,000 former players related to potential debilitating neurological health issues connected to multiple concussions suffered during their playing days. He is representing five players: Antwaan Randle El, Ray Buchanan, Jeremy Bridges, Dante Wesley and Damon Washington.
The case currently is being debated in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, where Judge Anita Brody last year preliminarily approved a NFL settlement offer of $765 million but asked both sides to expand and amend some of the settlement terms.
Abood believes the Borland announcement – and the retirement announcements earlier this year of several other players still in their 20s – raises another issue that needs to be considered before the lawsuit is settled.
“The settlement calls for payments to be made for 65 years. A significant number of players are still in their 30s and 40s and may not need help for 20 or 30 years. But there’s no guarantee the NFL will be a profitable entity in 20 or 30 years,” he said.
Abood cited the decline in participation in youth football across the country, as parents have become alarmed by widely publicized cases of former players committing suicide who were later discovered to have suffered from brain damage related to concussions suffered during their playing days.
Abood also objects to the exclusion in the settlement of families of deceased players being compensated even if the players are diagnosed with brain damage after they have died.
“That to me and a number of the other attorneys is the biggest hole in the current settlement,” he said.
The case as garnered significant attention because of the popularity of the sport – it generates $10 billion in income annually – and the alarming demise of some of the game’s most popular players after post-mortem tests revealed brain damage. While critics of the suit say players knew in advance they were signing up for a dangerous sport that could cause long-term health problems, Abood says the argument is severely flawed.
“The NFL conducted studies that showed the detrimental effects of multiple concussions, but they lied about the results. That’s why this is in fact a fraud case. These players and their families deserve a just result because the potential long-term health implications are devastating,” he said.
For more information:
Norman Abood  724-3700