NFL Injury Lawyer
What did the NFL know and when did it know it? That is the question that will continue to haunt the league for years to come. Scientific evidence first emerged back in 2002 when former Pittsburg Steelers center Mike Webster died and was then diagnosed with CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. From Tomahawk, Wisconsin, Mr. Webster was a perennial All-Pro who was instrumental in building the Pittsburg football dynasty.
Matthews & Associates no longer accepts NFL / CTE Cases
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as sub-concussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms. In past years, the disease was called dementia pugilistica (DP), which in slang terms referred to a former boxer as “punch-drunk.” For years it was thought that only boxing could render the kinds of brain damage now being found in players like Mike Webster and Terry Long of the Steelers, along with dozens of others, including former NHL hockey stars like Bob Probert.
CTE has now been most frequently found in professional athletes playing American football, hockey, professional wrestling, even stunt cheerleading and more. Anyone who has suffered repetitive brain trauma can potentially suffer from CTE. The condition is marked by degeneration of brain tissue along with the presence and accumulation of tau protein. People with CTE may show symptoms of dementia: memory loss, aggression, confusion, depression. The malady may appear years or even decades after the initial or repeated trauma, as was the case with former Atlanta Falcon Ryan Easterling.
A baseline test has been created to measure potential cognitive impairment from contact sports, but there is currently no base test to find CTE while a person is still alive.
NFL players dying young
In addition to Webster, Long and Easterling, Andre Waters, Dave Duerson, Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau, Shane Dronnet, Chris Henry, and many other former NFL stars have been found to have been suffering from CTE prior to their untimely, violent deaths. One also wonders about other former NFL stars who died violently at their own hand years before the CTE scandal hit the news, players such as perennial All-Pro Tackle Jim Tyrer of the Kansas City Chiefs. Was Mr. Tyrer’s uncharacteristically violent behavior – he shot his wife and then himself – a result of CTE?
Dr. Bennet Omalu
As recently televised on Frontline’s “League of Denial,” the first neuropathologist to identify CTE in the brain has been roundly villified by the NFL. The league has been on a crusade to destroy Dr. Omalu ever since he first diagnosed the deceased Mike Webster with CTE. Friends and family noted that Mr. Webster went into a steep mental decline before his death at 50 in 2002.
In 2005, Dr. Bennet Omalu and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Pathology published Omalu’s findings in the journal ‘Neurosurgery.’ The paper, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player,” was followed by a second the next year with similar pathology.
In August 2013, attorneys for some 4,500 former NFL players and their families agreed to settle CTE concussion cases for some $765 million. That settlement is ongoing.