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Friday, January 31, 2014

Former Lions running back Jahvid Best sues NFL over concussions

By on 1/31/2014 11:30:00 AM

Former Detroit Lions' running back Jahvid Best filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL and the helmet maker Riddel over concussions, according to the Detroit Press. The lawsuit is citing that the league “was aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries … but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information.” Coincidentally, the league released a report two days later claiming that concussion cases were down 13% this year.

Best was a first-round draft pick for Detroit in 2010, and is now out of the NFL after suffering multiple concussions with the Lions before being released in July 2013.  He tried to return to football multiple times, but could never get cleared by doctors. 

Best topped 1,000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie, thus providing Detroit’s long-stagnant run game with a glimmer of hope. However, he played just six games in his second NFL season and was released by the Lions.  His professional career ended with a total of 945 yards and six touchdowns in 22 games. 

Now 25 years old, he adds that the Lions are not part of the suit because Best, who also suffered concussions that caused him to miss his final games while he was playing for Cal, has a separate workman’s compensation claim pending against the team. The team declined to comment on either the suit or the claim.

Kdoebler via Wikimedia Commons

Best's lawsuit against the league is timed nearly perfectly with the NFL's latest report claiming the concussion cases are down this year.  A most controversial topic around the players and teams, the story has yet to go away. In August of last year, the league announced that it would pay $765 million in lawsuits brought by thousands of former players that it concealed a link between football and traumatic brain injury. Five months and at least 152 concussions later, it remains a hot topic.  In 2013, legends such as Brett Favre, Tony DorsettTerry Bradshaw and Harry Carson all came out to discuss how concussions have affected their lives.

The NFL has reportedly done multiple things to prevent such head injuries.  Most noticeably to even the casual fan, they implemented a new rule on helmet hits in 2013, designed to reduce, but not completely eliminate, hitting with the crown of the helmet. Despite a vote of 31-1, the change comes under heavy criticism. Hall of Fame running back Emmit Smith says the rule “sounds like it’s been made up by people who have never played the game of football.”

Many other players have come out against the new rule, claiming that it forces them to hit low, putting the knees in more danger.  In fact, USA Today reported Monday that players are more worried about knee injuries compared to concussions. 

Where does it end?  In response to the allegations of the league covering up the concussion crisis, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded that the NFL actively minimized the dangers of concussions. Goodell says there was “absolutely not” a cover-up of any scientific research showing a link between football and long-term brain damage. Goodell says that to the contrary, the NFL has been a leader in the field of concussion research as far back as the 1990s. 
“We have driven the awareness of this issue. We have driven the medical study of this issue and I think that’s been good for society and I’m proud of what the NFL has done on that front,” says Goodell.
In a league that reportedly generates millions of dollars a year, the questions on how to rectify this situation are abundant.  Why not invest or invent helmets that utilize technology to help diagnose head injuries?  Many experts claim that proper helmet design can ultimately lower the incidence of concussions in the game – an argument that has now been confirmed by new research conducted on the football field. 

After embedding sensors into two different types of football helmets, researchers from Virginia Tech University have revealed that one helmet was much more effective at preventing concussions than the other. According to the researchers report on Friday, their findings confirm that helmets can actually be designed to reduce the risk of concussions during game play. 

This past year was "supposed" to be the year that the league put the crisis behind them, as 2013 was meant to mark the end of the crisis.  In turn it seems like even more attention has been created amongst the players and fans. With lawsuits like Jahvid Best's coming out of the woodwork, the 2013 season may now be remembered as the year the taboo around football head injuries was all but erased. 


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