FOOTBALL + HEAD INJURIES = LAWSUITS

helmet.jpgNFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell was recently quoted stating “he absolutely would let his son play football”. Fortunately for him, he has two daughters.

My family has a long history of football players. My cousin, Andrew Robustelli was the defensive end for the New York Giants and a football Hall of Famer. Andy retired from his successful football career in 1965. I was fortunate enough to be present at his testimonial. Andy Robustelli had 9 children and most of his sons played high school and college football, while Andy played professional football with the New York Giants.

The studies, statistics, and accounting of players injured by repeated concussions did not exist in the 1960’s. The helmets they wore were one step above the old leather helmet used at the beginning of professional football.

Both of my brothers and I played high school football. My oldest brother Andy played football for “Peekskill Military Academy” and graduated in 1959. I recall that one time he injured his back so bad that they rushed him to the hospital. He continued to play after recuperation and ended his football career upon graduation from high school. My second oldest brother Joe played football for Riverdale Country School in the Bronx for four years and had many articles written about him. The articles would state that the Robustelli name was heard in another Bronx football field. He played offensive guard and on the defensive line. He was never injured with any head injury but I recall after a typical Saturday morning game, he would have headaches for a couple of days. My football career as an offensive line man and defensive line man for Riverdale County School ended abruptly in my Junior year after a fractured leg from an automobile accident. I recall being very aggressive as a defense line man and would break through the line and tackle the quarterback or half back many times resulting in headaches.

We have come a long way from the 1960’s and so has football equipment. Several retired professional football players are dying with a condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or a brain disease called “TAU” which interferes with brain function. This is a sticky substance in the brain tissue which interferes with function as a result of head injuries. Retired NFL players suffer from loss of memory, depression, fatigue, dizziness and erratic behavior.

A class action of approximately 4,000 former players and their families has been started. This resulted after the family of the late former NFL player Junior Seau sued the NFL and the helmet manufacturer Riddell. They argued that the NFL was aware for years that repeated head collisions caused short and long term brain injuries resulting in the above mentioned injuries.

After a 20 year career with the Chargers, Dolphins and Patriots as a tough player involved in frequent head collisions, Junior Seau committed suicide by shooting himself. A posthumus study of his brain confirmed a diagnosis of CTE. This condition was also found in Dave Duerso who also shot himself and left a note to his relatives to have a study of his brain done. It was found that Duerso and over 30 NFL/NHL players took their lives and autopsies confirmed CTE.

The class action lawsuit has been filed in California State Court in San Diego. The NFL has requested to the Court to move 4,000 cases to Federal Court in Philadelphia. This lawsuit, regardless of its outcome, will force the NFL and other professional sports to deal with the long term effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) of former players. These known injuries from long term effect on football players must be compensated.

These lawsuits (like the car manufacturing lawsuits of the 60’s & 70’s) will undoubtedly make the game safer. New helmets are being used by high school players to professional NFL players that can and will cut down on concussion injuries. Now that appropriate attention has been bought to prevent these injuries, I as well as Mark Goodell will permit my step children to continue to play football. (My stepson now plays football as a defensive end for Somers High School)

If you should have any questions, or require legal representation, please contact the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC for a free consultation. You can reach us at (914) 288-0800.