Category Archives: NFL

Since when did the NFL have their Players Back?

In 1920, The National Football League (NFL) was created, and ever since it has been America’s most loved sport. NFL Games have the highest average attendance rate than any other sport in the world. The game is loved, the game is played, and the NFL profits from every aspect of the sport in excess of 13 Billion a year and predicted to be 25 Billion by 2025.

Since the creation of the NFL, every athlete has provided the NFL with the talent they needed. Athletes have shed their blood, sweat, and tears for the love of the game and their fans entertainment. The athletes are the reason the NFL exists, and every player displays their dedication every time they step on the field. Which begs the question, how does the NFL show their dedication to the athletes? Most say, money. As in any other employment agreement, services and skills provided to the employer are exchanged for money. If the job in question is dangerous, it is the employers duty to provide a warning so that the employees know the risk they are taking by accepting the position. The NFL does pay their athletes (employees) for their services and skills, but they were never warned about the injuries that could result later in life.

In some ways, this is situation is similar to the Tobacco Case, or the many Asbestos Cases. People did their job, and their employer later found out that the employees could be harmed from the work, thus had to compensate their employees for the damage done to their bodies. Sounds simple, you get harmed at work and your work pays for the injury. It sounds simple, but the NFL could not grasp this concept, and unlike the cases mentioned above the NFL knew of the injuries that their employees were going to suffer in the future.

My good friend, Dr. Bennett Omalu, discovered what the National Football League had already known-Football can cause severe damage to the brain which can affect the player later on in life. Right away the NFL came into defense mode by denying the medical evidence and attempting to discredit Dr. Omalu’s work . This is where I came in. I could not stand to see anyone attacking a man whom I considered a very close friend, so I began to research. After years of research, I had caught them keeping a secret, and I had caught them in a web of lies. Eventually my research turned into a lawsuit against the NFL. The first of its kind on behalf of over a 100 former players. When the truth became public, when they could no longer sustain the charade, they NFL finally admitted the connection between football and brain damage… or maybe they didn’t.

Truth be told, these facts are black and white, the NFL has never had their athlete’s best interests in mind, especially the retired player.

Now that everyone knows the truth, the National Football League has to help their players right?

Isn’t it easy to register and become part of the lawsuit?

They have to pay the retired player who has medical support, right?

If these questions were true, my job would be over.

Instead, the NFL has promoted their willingness to work with each and every player. They have repeatedly stated that registering is simple, it only takes thirty seconds and that players don’t need a lawyer.

This is where the black and white statement comes into play yet again: the NFL has never had their athlete’s best interests in mind. If becoming qualified is so easy, why is the NFL putting so many roadblocks in the way of a player qualifying, such as a 54 page claim package and a 17 page diagnosing physician certification? Why are they making it so difficult for their player to receive the money they deserve? This is a simple concept the NFL understands. They very well know the less help a player has, the less people advocating for them, the easier it is for a player to not qualify. If a player does not understand what to do, or how to maneuver around the numerous roadblocks the NFL has placed-they won’t qualify and the NFL will be able to retain their funds.

This brings me to the very first question asked: Since when did the NFL have their Players Back? The answer is simple- Never.

Does the NFL Concussion Settlement Mean the Players Will Get the Help They Need?

The NFL Settlement is designed to compensate the individuals previously employed by the NFL, who have suffered or continue to suffer from brain injury. The funds will be distributed to those who qualify in hopes that those former players, and their families, will become whole once again, and to cover all medical expenses and economic losses from their brain injuries.

That is the hope; however, there is truly no amount of money that can compensate for all of the pain and suffering that has been endured by the players and their families. Unfortunately when glass is shattered there is rarely enough super glue to fix what once was. So now, we as a society throw money at any issue that arises, believing that money is better than super glue, because now you can buy a whole new item that is not broken. The truth is, that is not the case here, you cannot buy your memories that are forever forgotten, your family’s heartache, or the life you once had. There is no compensation that can rectify all the lives that have been ruined.

I started this litigation knowing this to be true, but I wanted to help in any way I could. I know that I cannot fix the past, but I hope that this settlement can, in some way, help relieve some of the financial stress that has been weighing on these players backs for years. It is my hope that these former players can afford to receive all the medical care they require without having to empty their own pockets or reach out to our government for assistance.

Truthfully, I brought this litigation for more than the players who have already suffered. I brought this litigation to spread awareness so that other players and families were aware of what could become their future if they did not protect against repeated brain trauma. If this litigation has helped even one person to realize the medical consequences, and has prevented any player, or any family from having to go through this devastation, then I have done my job.

Some thoughts on the Concussion movie

I was invited to the Pittsburgh premiere of ‘Concussion’ on Tuesday, December 15th. It was a great evening to reconnect with my friend Dr. Bennet Omalu and see an issue we both care deeply about on the big screen.

The movie stars Will Smith as Bennet and he does a pretty spot-on accent. It chronicles the discovery and attempts from the NFL to defraud Bennet and his research. At the end it pays credit to the fact that the lawsuit made the movie possible.

I enjoyed the movie, but it’s very sensationalized for Hollywood. There were certain scenes with former players, now deceased due to CTE, that didn’t actually happen. If you want the full story, check out Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas. She wrote the ‘Game Brain’ article for GQ that inspired the movie. She wrote a book that accurately details everything, including the conversation Bennet and I had on my office that led to starting the NFL concussion litigation.

While the movie pays respect to the lawsuit, it doesn’t cover it, which is a little disappointing. The lawsuit was the tipping point with the NFL that changed the conversation about concussions. No one did anything when medical researchers discovered CTE. The disease was only acknowledged and taken seriously after the players took the sports leagues to court. Then everyone started paying attention.

This article from the American Association for Justice describes why civil action is the reason everyone is paying attention and it’s a very interesting report. It focuses on how the litigation forced action after years of ignoring the concussion issue.

At the end of the day, Concussion is good for making this issue more permanent with a film so people continue to pay attention to concussions and remember why it’s important to keep fighting.

I encourage everyone to see it when it opens Christmas day.

Ex-Viking Fred McNeill, client and hero, loses his battle with dementia at 63

Earlier this month, professional football lost another player to the devastating effects of brain injury. Fred McNeill died last Monday at age 63 due to complications stemming from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). During his time in the NFL, McNeill played twelve seasons for the Minnesota Vikings and became a franchise leader in career tackles with more than 1,000.

“Fred was one of our first clients with the NFL case,” said Jason Luckasevic, GPW attorney and originator of the NFL concussion lawsuit. “His loss is felt deeply in our office, especially knowing it came from head trauma sustained during his time playing football.”

In 1974, McNeill was the Vikings’ first round draft pick from UCLA. His 12 seasons included two Super Bowls and a famed block punt from Ray Guy, then considered the best punter in the league. His teammates describe him as a “great person and fantastic linebacker who “always did his job.”

During his last season in the league, McNeill began his legal studies at William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul. He spent many yeas working as a lawyer until he lost his job in 1996 due to cognitive problems related to repeated head trauma from his time playing professional football.

At the time, a fellow UCLA grad and partner at his law firm Barry Reed noticed a change in McNeill, but then there was no understanding of the deeper brain issues causing the disruptions that made it challenging to function as an attorney. Their friendship allowed Reed to see the true brutality of the game that forever changed his opinion of football.

In his words, “it ended the life of a very good man.”

McNeill’s cognitive difficulties began 15 years after retiring from the league. After years of confusion, he was finally diagnosed with dementia in 2009 while in his late 50s. Dementia is a term used to describe a range of symptoms typically seen in the elderly when thinking and memory skills begin to decline. Things like judgment, perception, reasoning, communication and more become impaired, with many forms of dementia worsening over time.

Toward the end of his life, his personality began to shift, including bouts of angersover seemingly simple occurrences. He died in a nursing home in Southern California, no longer able to care for himself.

“Fred was a hero for taking on the NFL as part of the first group to sue the league for its mishandling of brain injured athletes,” said Luckasevic. “Unfortunately he’s now an example of what this mishandling ultimately does to the players and their families. It’s a tragedy.”

[This post also appeared on]


  • Walsh, “Obiturary: At 63, struggle with dementia ends for ex-Viking Fred McNeill,” StarTribune (Nov. 4, 2015). [Link]
  • Alzheimer’s Association, “What is dementia?” (2015). [Link]