NEW YORK — Scores of lawsuits involving thousands of former players touched by concussions and brain injuries have been consolidated into one master complaint, setting up a massive and potentially costly case for the NFL.
Lawyers for the players filed the complaint Thursday in Philadelphia, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries. Among the illnesses cited were dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from those health problems.
“The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back with the Patriots and Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have.”
Also named in the suit was helmet-maker Riddell, Inc.
The suit accuses the NFL of “mythologizing” and glorifying violence through the media, including its NFL Films division.
“The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result,” the complaint charges.
“Despite its knowledge and controlling role in governing player conduct on and off the field, the NFL turned a blind eye to the risk and failed to warn and/or impose safety regulations governing this well-recognized health and safety problem.”
In response, the NFL cited the many health programs it runs for current and former players, and a series of medical benefits to former NFL players to help them after football.
Eileen McNamee echoes husband’s fury at Clemens
WASHINGTON — Eileen McNamee’s story differs with her husband’s in several ways, and her own version appears to have changed somewhat over the years, but there’s little doubt about one thing the estranged couple have in common: They both were furious when details of their oldest son’s medical condition were revealed at a Roger Clemens news conference four years ago.
Eileen McNamee said she called Brian McNamee right away and left a voicemail.
“I told him,” she said, “not to let him get away with it.”
The next day, Brian McNamee retrieved the evidence that he said had been kept in and around a beer can inside a FedEx box for more than six years, the remnants of an alleged steroids injection of Clemens in 2001. The needle and cotton balls are among the key evidence in the perjury trial of the former star baseball pitcher, who is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using performance-enhancing substances.
Brian McNamee testified last month that he injected Clemens with steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001 and with human growth hormone in 2000.
There’s another wife involved in the case who is expected to contradict some of Brian McNamee’s testimony. Debbie Clemens took the stand late Thursday to begin her much-anticipated testimony on behalf of her husband, but there was only time for her to answer mostly questions about her background before court adjourned for the day.
“My heart’s pounding,” Debbie Clemens said in the hallway seconds before entering U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton’s sixth-floor courtroom. She is expected to testify Friday that she received an HGH shot from Brian McNamee about 12 years ago and that her husband wasn’t present, thus differing with McNamee about the year and circumstances of the injection.
Eileen McNamee — subpoenaed by the defense — was on the stand Thursday for a second day, and the government’s cross-examination highlighted discrepancies between her testimony at the trial and what she told the FBI three years ago.
Patriots release WR Chad Ochocinco
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have released wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.
The former Chad Johnson spent one unproductive season with the team, even though the Patriots went to the Super Bowl. He had 15 receptions for an 18.4-yard average and one touchdown, but rarely was a key part of the offense.
Ochocinco, who played 10 seasons for Cincinnati before joining the Patriots. In seven seasons, he had seven 1,000-yard receiving years and a high of 97 catches.
Ochocinco tweets Thursday: “Thoroughly enjoyed the oppurtunity to play for the “Patriot” organization… fans were … wicked awesome, I wish all of you the best…”
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, says he is “in the process of gauging interest from potential teams.”
Saints make new offer to QB Drew Brees
METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints have made a new contract offer to record-setting quarterback Drew Brees, said a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because the team and the quarterback have not publicly discussed the new offer. The person did not provide details about financial changes in the new offer, but added, “as always, there is a lot to get through and no deal is imminent.”
The Saints have placed their one-year franchise tag on Brees, barring him from negotiating with other teams. Brees has said he wants to remain in New Orleans but has skipped voluntary practices and minicamp while holding out for a long-term deal.
If a deal were to get done over the weekend, Brees would be able to attend the Saints’ final set of voluntary offseason practices next week.
Brees was in New Orleans on Thursday, but not for contract negotiations.
He attended a City Council hearing to support a zoning ordinance required for a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop he will open not far from his New Orleans home in the city’s historic Uptown district.
The council voted unanimously in favor of the variance, but Brees declined to be interviewed or make any comments about football as he was escorted to a waiting car outside City Hall.
Auriemma: Taurasi should be OK for Olympics
Geno Auriemma expects injured star Diana Taurasi to be fine for the Olympics next month.
Taurasi has missed the Phoenix Mercury’s past three games with a hip flexor injury and is out indefinitely according to the team.
“I did speak with Dee obviously I was concerned when I found out she was injured,” Auriemma said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
“She led me to believe that it’s something that will heal through rehab and hard work on her part. She’ll be ready to play in London, hopefully at 100 percent.”
Taurasi sustained the injury during the team’s training camp after reporting just seven days before the season opener following a full Eurolegue season in Turkey and training camp with USA Basketball.
She missed the opener at Minnesota because of the injury and played just 10 minutes at Tulsa in the team’s second game. She played 26 minutes and scored 18 points in Phoenix’s home opener loss to Los Angeles.