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When it comes to brain injury-Can the NFL really be trusted?

Yesterday’s New York Times ran a front page story “NFL Toughens Warning on Risks of Head Injury”.  The story by Times reporter, Alan Schwarz was a very insightful  look at the NFL’s new  attitude on the long-term risks associated with concussions.  The Times reported that the league is requiring all teams to post a new poster alerting players to the long term dangers of a concussion and finally admitting that concussions can cause mental and behavioral changes as well as physical disability.

What is disheartening is that the story also reports that the that the league’s attorneys do not seem to have the best interests of the players in mind when it comes to the recognition that there is nothing “mild” about a mild brain injury.

The continual refusal by the attorneys retained by the NFL to accept the association between long term disability and concussions exemplifies their disingenuous position when confronting the issue of brain damage. It is implausible, that these attorneys are acting without the full knowledge and approval of their client. . The league is now doing a better job of paying lip service to acknowledging the long term disability associated with concussions. However, it remains steadfast in its refusal to fulfill its fiduciary obligations under the disability retirement plan and adequately compensate those players who have sacrificed their brains and lives while the league owners have continued to reap the financial benefits.

It would be interesting to know what initiatives the league is undertaking to review the disability files of all those players who have been wrongfully denied brain injury associated disability payments, with their purported better understanding of traumatic brain injury.

It may be, that the only way to obtain justice for these players is to require a truly “independent” review of these files or surrender the cloak of immunity behind which the league hides and consent to a full and fair court hearing.

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