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From The Chicago Tribune


Former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson’s family today sued the NFL over his suicide last year, claiming the league for decades had known that concussions from playing football cause brain damage but deliberately concealed that information from players, coaches and fans.

Duerson, a Pro Bowl safety, sustained at least three concussions during his 11-year playing career and suffered from progressive, advanced brain damage known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, according to the lawsuit.

“If the NFL would have taken the necessary steps to oversee and protect Dave Duerson by warning him of the dangers of head traumas. . .then (he) would not have suffered dangerous repetitive head trauma, would have recovered more rapidly, and would not have sustained permanent damage to his brain which contributed to his death,” according to the suit.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, also identifies six former players who reportedly suffered brain damage from playing football and later committed suicide.

The family’s lawyer, Thomas Demetrio, of the Corboy and Demetrio law firm, said players should pay attention to what happened to Duerson and others who played football.

“Current coaches, trainers and players from the NFL down to the Pee Wee level, need to take heed—avoid concussions as best they can, recognize their significance and when in doubt, sit out,” Demetrio said. “And by all means, don’t simply say “my toe hurts” when it’s really your head.”

Demetrio’s comments were targeted at the tough mind set of players like Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who earlier this year told HBO that he would hide concussion symptoms from team doctors.

"If I have a concussion these days, I'm going to say something happened to my toe or knee just to get my bearings for a few plays," he said. "I'm not going to sit in there and say I got a concussion, I can't go in there the rest of the game."

Duerson’s second oldest son, Tregg, is representing his father’s estate in the suit against the NFL and co-defendant Riddell Inc., which provides helmets to most of the league’s players. The suit alleges Riddell failed to warn players that its helmets would not prevent concussions.

The Duerson family suit is the latest in a stepped up legal fight between retired players and their families against the NFL.

More than a dozen suits have been filed around the country since the summer against the NFL and helmet makers. Several of those suits similarly allege that the NFL hid information about the harmful effects to the brain from repeated hits to the head.


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