In an earlier blog we discussed changes in rules of play for student athletes in Ohio who suffer a head injury on the playing field. Former players of the National Football League (NFL) form the group that brought the problem of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) into the public eye. For these older athletes, their love of this rough sport brought them fleeting fame and permanent brain injuries. The class action lawsuit brought by former football players was recently settled.

For some players, sports were a reason to live, but not a good reason to die. In a study at Boston University School of Medicine, the brains of 85 football players and others organ donors were posthumously evaluated. The results confirmed degenerative brain disease in 50 samples studied, including those from:

  • Dave Duerson
  • Cookie Gilchrist
  • John Macke
  • Ollie Matson
  • Derek Boogaard

Of the 34 brain studies on NFL players, only one did not show the tangled protein webs and contracted tissue caused by CTE.

For NFL players living with the devastating effects of CTE, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, settlement of a class action lawsuit against the National Football League could not come soon enough.

With many of the most severely affected football players paying thousands of dollars each month for care, the quick settlement was seen as means to avoid a protracted legal battle while the health of plaintiffs continued to decline.

That said, the division of $765 million among 4,500 players is not likely to provide the relief required, leaving disabled players impoverished by their condition.

Making the connection between professional sports to traumatic brain injury was essential to protect future athletes from the same fate. While the benefit of that information may keep young players safe, the price paid by these former football players was too high.