Add former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien and 125 other former professional football players to the list of people now suing the NFL. On March 23, a class-action lawsuit in which Rypien is the lead plaintiff was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to court documents, the lawsuit alleges that the NFL “deliberately ignored and actively concealed” the dangers and risks of “repetitive traumatic brain injuries and concussions for decades”.

Canadian-born Rypien, now 49, quarterbacked for the Redskins from 1986 until 1993. The suit alleges that Rypien suffered multiple concussions and head injuries during his time with the Redskins, and as a result, he now suffers from “various neurological conditions and symptoms”. The plaintiffs are seeking “medical monitoring, as well as compensation and financial recovery” for the long-term and chronic “injuries, financial losses, expenses and intangible losses”.

                                       

This class-action lawsuit is not an aberration; NFLConcussionLitigation.com lists 51 suits against the NFL, representing more than 1,000 former players. Just six weeks ago, the family of former Chicago Bears star Dave Duerson filed a wrongful death suit against the NFL claiming the league did not do enough to prevent or treat the concussions that severely damaged Duerson’s brain. In February 2011, Duerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, having left a suicide note pleading to have his brain donated to researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy. The attorney representing Duerson’s family said the NFL should have been a leader in educating current and former players about head injuries.

Rypien’s lawsuit comes on the heels of the NFL’s investigation of allegations that the New Orleans Saints and other teams had ‘bounty programs’ which offered cash bonuses to players for injuring specific opponents. In response, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for one year, without pay.  General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, assistant coach Joe Vitt was suspended for six games and former defensive coach Gregg Williams (who left the Saints to join the St. Louis Rams) has been suspended indefinitely.  On Friday, Loomis, Vitt and Payton announced that they are appealing their suspensions.  The NFL has indicated that as many as 27 players may have been involved in the bounty scandal, although at the time of publication, none have been sanctioned.

Jennifer Hartman, guest blogger