While there have been plenty of doctors denouncing professional football as a dangerous sport, the only people to have spoken up from the NFL have maintained the sport is as safe as it could be. Finally, one former professional football player is fighting back, saying the NFL did not do enough to prevent the brain injury he is still coping with, though he hasn’t played professionally since 2000.
Neil Smith, former Kansas City Chiefs defensive end, is suing the NFL in federal court for the repeated concussions he incurred, as well as their misdiagnosis, according to The Miami Herald. The concussions have lead to “permanent and debillitating injuries” including “cognitive impairment” and early-onset dementia.
In his lawsuit, Smith contends, “despite exhibiting concussion symptoms, Mr. Smith was regularly returned to play, significantly increasing his chances of long-term brain damage” after three concussions during a single game during the 1988 season.
Smith does not put the guilt on the team, but the league as a whole saying the NFL is “shouldered for itself a common law duty to provide players with rules and information that protect them as much as possible from short-term and long-term health risks.”
Smith is one of the few former NFL players to speak up about the pain he has suffered, but with the frequency of traumatic brain injury in the league, and the questionable practices still being used today to get players back onto the field, it is doubtful that there won’t be others.