Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Concussion Expert Says Youth Football is the “Definition of Child Abuse”

Concussion Expert Says Youth Football is the “Definition of Child Abuse”

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that 110 of the 111 National Football League (NFL) players whose medical records were analyzed suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) due to repetitive head trauma. Forensic neuropathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, whose work uncovered the core connection between playing tackle football and near-inevitable serious brain injury and whose life was dramatized in the 2015 Will Smith movie “Concussion,” states that this newest study confirms how harmful playing the aggressive sport can be. He goes as far as to say that letting the young play football is the “definition of child abuse.”

CTE is a degenerative neurological disease first diagnosed in an NFL player in 2002; it is understood to be caused by repeated head and thus brain trauma and has been found to affect many former football players. Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues, dementia, and sometimes suicidal behavior.

“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse [on the football field], and it will succeed,” Omalu remarked during a recent New York Press Club talk. “If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure. There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer.”

According to the New York Post, the NFL did not take Omalu’s reports on the risks related to football concussions seriously when he first brought his findings to the league. However, the NFL would end up paying $1 billion to former athletes to settle a myriad of head and brain injury claims. Rather than blame the NFL for these injuries, Omalu criticizes “the societal mores that dictate its popularity and the acolytes in the medical community who have inexcusably exchanged their integrity for their own economic benefit through their association with the league.”

Sports Illustrated notes that Omalu believes “no person under age 18 should be playing football.”

“Adults are free to do whatever they want to do, as long as they have educated consent. But children, no,” Omalu explains. “And we’ve always done that whenever we identify a possible risk factor. What we do as a society is protect children from being exposed to such risk factors. We do that with cigarette smoking. We did that will alcohol. Why not football, which is more dangerous? We wouldn’t let children smoke a stick of cigarette, but then send them to a football field to sustain concussions? So I think it’s time for society to tell the truth.”

The NFL Players Head Injury Lawsuit

Lieff Cabraser represents former professional football players and their spouses in a class action lawsuit seeking damages for the painful and debilitating injuries the players suffered from repetitive head traumas during their careers in the NFL. We urge potentially affected players and ex-players to contact us today to learn more about the case.

In addition to monetary damages, players seek to recover fair compensation for their spouses from the loss of companionship, affection, and support the spouses have suffered due to their husbands’ injuries. For those players that have not yet evidenced the long term physical and mental effects of repetitive head traumas, the case seeks the establishment of a medical monitoring program that would provide specialized testing for the early detection of the long term effects of repetitive head traumas.