Four former NFL players, including Jamal Lewis and Dorsey Levens, have filed a lawsuit against the league, claiming that brain injuries that sustained during their career left them struggling with medical problems years after retiring, reports ESPN.
Lewis and Levens, along with Fulton Kuykendall and Ryan Stewart, filed the suit against the NFL and FNL Properties LLC this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta where all the players currently live.
The players claim the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the potential for concussions to harm its players. The men says they currently suffer from a range of medical problems stemming from their playing days, including memory loss, headaches and sleeplessness.
“The NFL has done everything in its power to hide the issue and mislead players concerning the risks associated with concussions,” the players argue in the lawsuit.
In response, the NFL said they’ve long made player safety a priority and continues to do so.
“Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit,” the league said in a statement to the Associated Press this week. “It stands in contrast to the league’s actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”
Furthermore, the court documents say the league concealed the dangers from coaches, trainers, players and the public until June 2010, when it publicly acknowledged the health threats and warned players and teams.
“While athletes in other professional sports who had suffered concussions were being effectively ‘shut down’ for long periods of time or full seasons, NFL protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions to the very game in which the injury occurred,” the lawsuit states.
The four players are seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Lewis, 32, rushed for 10,607 yards in nine seasons (2000-09) with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. His 2,066 yards rushing in 2003 rank behind only Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 in 1984 all-time among single-season rushing totals.
Levens, 41, rushed for 4,955 yards in 11 seasons (1994-2004) with the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Kuykendall, 58, played 11 NFL seasons (1975-85) as a linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.
The 38-year-old Stewart played five seasons (1996-2000) as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions. He is a regular contributor on the “ESPN First Take” debate desk.
The lawsuit is the latest to be filed against the NFL this year by former players over concussions.
According to ESPN.com, 12 former football players, including former receiver Joe Horn, filed a lawsuit against the league in early December about its concussion policies, saying there was widespread pregame use of an anti-inflammatory drug that could put someone with a head injury at increased risk.
There were also two separate lawsuits were filed for concussion-related policies back in August; and in July 74 former players sued as well.