With the NFL still reeling from the New Orleans Saints bounty program that has soiled the reputation of the league, commissioner Roger Goodell just had another bombshell dropped on him in the form of a class-action lawsuit filed by former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Mark Rypien and 125 other former NFL players, including former first round draft picks Tony Mandarich and Todd Marinovich.
As reported by the Washington Times, the suit was filed last Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and “alleges the NFL was aware of the risks of repetitive traumatic brain injury but hid the information and misled players, resulting in permanent brain damage of neurological disorders.”
Rypien, who once claimed he suffered two concussions during his 11-year career, alleges in the suit that he has various neurological conditions and symptoms from head trauma suffered in the NFL. The suit includes eight counts, such as fraud, conspiracy to defraud and negligence.
Mandarich, speaking by phone from Scottsdale, AZ, said that he was originally skeptical about the lawsuit when contacted by lawyer Gene Locks, who is representing the players, before being convinced of the merits of the case.
“Often times a class action lawsuit is about a money grab…. and that’s not what this is about,” Mandarich said.
The former Green Bay Packer and Indianapolis Colt offensive lineman, now 45, says he now believes the league knew about the dangers of concussions but did not give proper warnings to players after the dangers of head trauma.
“If (the NFL) didn’t know that there were greater risks, then I wouldn’t be part of (the lawsuit),” Mandarich said.
“My main objective is, if they knew about it, they should have been disclosed to us. It would have probably prompted more action like (there is) today in the NFL.”
Mandarich said he officially had six or seven concussions during his NFL career that resulted in post-concussion syndrome and battles with depression.
“I don’t want to say recently, but for years I have taken medication for (depression),” said Mandarich, who said he also suffers from short-term memory loss and affected speech.
According to NFLConcussionLitigation.com, an estimated 51 lawsuits have been filed against the NFL as horrific stories such as the deaths of former Pittsburgh Steeler great Mike Webster and ex-Chicago Bear Dave Duerson has pushed NFL concussions to the forefront.
There’s no doubt that a class-action lawsuit with 126 players and a former Super Bowl MVP as the lead plaintiff will bring even more attention to such a troubling issue.
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