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Lawsuits threaten end game for NFL

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08:03 AM ET 05.15 | In the eyes of some, the horizon is bleak. We're a few years away, but it's coming. It's happening, and there's nothing any of us can do about it. In a few years courts will start hearing class-action lawsuits filed by retired players against the NFL. And if that first wave of lawsuits ends badly for the league -- with precedent-setting rulings that the NFL owes millions of dollars in damages -- the jig's up. The game's over. The NFL is finished. Note that I didn't write, "The NFL as we know it is finished." I didn't write that, because it's worse than that. The NFL. Finished. I realize I'm describing the indescribable, but I'm not imagining the unimaginable.

CBSSports.com

Roger Goodell, Getty Images Roger Goodell, Getty Images
Comment #1 has been removed
May 15, 2012  08:08 AM ET

So I guess we will just be left with boxing

May 15, 2012  08:18 AM ET

Actually this could work. Lawsuits bankrupt the NFL and the sport is reform as the WFL and all the games are played in Poland and Russia. Rules? We don't need no stinking rules!!!

May 15, 2012  08:24 AM ET

Yeah, it could happen. Then we'll all end up shopping with our wives on Sunday afternoons.

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

May 15, 2012  08:27 AM ET

I don't want to imagine it happening so I will enjoy it while I can.

May 15, 2012  08:30 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Yeah, it could happen. Then we'll all end up shopping with our wives on Sunday afternoons.Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Scary thought.

May 15, 2012  08:31 AM ET

You know, I really thought that Goodell meant well when he first started with some of the safety reform. All the money being generated and the NFL can't figure out an answer to these lawsuits? Maybe if 31 owners and the Packers BoD can quit lining pockets and creating crazy amusement park stadiums and get back to the game, things will pan out.

May 15, 2012  08:39 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Yeah, it could happen. Then we'll all end up shopping with our wives on Sunday afternoons.Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

IT is a remote possibility, but in reality I don't think it will happen, them retired players - which I feel for - will have a tough case to prove , as the Technologies where not as advanced as they are today and the NFL and Doctors could not forsee the medical issues these guys would be facing.
And It looks like they are trying to get apeice of the pie since back when they where playing they where not making the millions these guys make today and they played thru injurys back then - that these guys don't play thru today.
So don't worry DD you ain't gonna be hanging out in the malls anytime soon - unless you are retireing and becoming a mall walker.
My guess this will be resolved in a way to help the players from the past, but the NFL ain't going nowhere.

May 15, 2012  08:40 AM ET
QUOTE(#2):

So I guess we will just be left with boxing

and sychornized swimming

May 15, 2012  09:06 AM ET

Go Nats!!!!

Comment #11 has been removed
May 15, 2012  09:27 AM ET

NFL+FINISHED=NEVER

These former players are grasping at straws and any judge in his/her right mind should toss any case aside from the bounty scandal.

All of the players know what they are getting into every time they put on pads. If they were naive to think that they were only risking injury in the "Now" instead of both "Now and Later" then they deserve nothing for stupidity. It doesn't take a genius to know that if you beat up your body repeatedly you will suffer reprocussions.

Besides, I bet if you polled the active NFL players on whether they would quit the game now and suffer no futher effects versus keep playing (and making tons of $) while enjoying the game they love. I bet the vast majority choose the latter.

May 15, 2012  09:46 AM ET

I think what the NFL has to worry about in the long-term is that kids may not get into the sport like these did in previous generations. The same thing happened to Boxing in the past 20-25 years as we all started to see the effects of the sport on guys like Muhammed Ali, less and less people took up the sport. The effect on Boxing is that the sport is a shell of what it used to be (in the US) as it relies heavily on international talent and no where as popular as it used to be here in the US.

I played Football growing up in Pop Warner and Highschool, and many of my friends played College Ball and all of us would not let our kids play because there are so many more sports they can get involved with. Now of course every kid isn't going to end up like Dave Duerson or Junior Seau if they play football, but why risk a young kid getting a concussion when they can play a non-contact sport like Basketball or Baseball, or even other sports like Lacrosse that weren't popular when I was a kid?

May 15, 2012  09:46 AM ET

Lawsuits like this eff things up. That's all they ever do. Owners end up with no teams. Fans end up with no game. And the retired guys don't get anything either, because the lawyers took all the cash, and there's no League to generate any new revenue.

Real smart.

May 15, 2012  09:47 AM ET

It's going to be kinda hard to prove the players didn't realize football is a violent sport and injuries are possible, and that the NFL kept all this from them. Juries and Judges do strange things though (almost $3M for the Mc Donalds hot coffee incident) so huge awards are possible. The NFL and Players union are both culpable in this and need to make some arrangements for the retired players to head this off. Unfortunately I don't see that happening so it will go to the courts.

May 15, 2012  09:51 AM ET

The point is taken, but Doyel's logic is really flawed. A whistle-blower in the tobacco industry noted that tobacco company executives knew full well for many years that a) tobacco was addictive, and b) it was carcinogenic. They sold cigarettes anyway, people got sick. Unless some whistle-blower in football says that the helmet-makers knew that their helmets were flawed and that NFL executives colluded with them, knowing that the helmets were defective, there is no legal way that I can see for anybody to prove malicious intent on the part of the helmet makers. In fact, I think the NFL has been pretty public about wanting to get better equipment, especially helmets for players. Then, too, unlike tobacco, football isn't a "stealth" health issue: guys pretty well know it's a violent sport and that there is risk. (They are certainly harming themselves when they take performance-enhancing chemicals.) So, yeah, suits are coming, but it's pretty difficult to see how they'll win. Okay, the analogy's not perfect, but when somebody gets into a car, takes it out in traffic, and the car crashes into another car, is it always the car maker's fault? (BTW, if the NFL is killed by this, so is hockey, rugby and every other contact sport.)

May 15, 2012  09:54 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

... but why risk a young kid getting a concussion when they can play a non-contact sport like Basketball or Baseball, or even other sports like Lacrosse that weren't popular when I was a kid?

This may be the biggest problem of them all. As the press focuses more and more on injuries and less on the game, it gets harder to keep the programs going. Governments have found too many other ways to spend money besides schools, so many towns are cutting back athletics as it is. Football is a very expensive sport, relative to most others, and suffers from having no equivalent women's sport to deal with Title 9 issues.

Add to that the problem of boys "dropping out" of sports programs to play video games, and we are facing the loss of football as a high-school sport.

May 15, 2012  10:03 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

I played Football growing up in Pop Warner and Highschool, and many of my friends played College Ball and all of us would not let our kids play because there are so many more sports they can get involved with. Now of course every kid isn't going to end up like Dave Duerson or Junior Seau if they play football, but why risk a young kid getting a concussion when they can play a non-contact sport like Basketball or Baseball, or even other sports like Lacrosse that weren't popular when I was a kid?

Things have changed in this country over even the last twenty years. When I was growing up, football was THE sport, not because a guy made a lot of money in it, but because it was considered the apogee of male sports. Guys proved themselves on the field and fans identified with them. They were more models then than now. You think of the animals of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, Butkus, Nitschke, Ditka, Mike Curtis, Jack Lambert, and you didn't watch them playing teh game so much as want to see them put a hit, a vicious hit, on another player. Nobody thought about bad stuff happening until Darryl Stingley, that I recall. There's still that part of fans that want to see a really vicious hit, but now we know about the price paid by the guy getting hit, a lot of which has to do with the speed of the game today. That conflict is what puts a guy like James Harrison into confusion. Not saying it's good or bad. It just is.

May 15, 2012  10:10 AM ET

See what happens when you put a p***y little choirboy like Goodell in charge. Bad things man. I vote for an UFL (Underground Football League). Instead of a pigskin they play with a lawyers skin. Go through twenty or thirty balls a week and make the a******'s afraid to walk the streets. They can also bury them up to their necks and use them as end zone markers. Strap them to sleds and make tackling dummies. Put the ball in their mouth and use them as tee's. Etc, etc.

 
May 15, 2012  10:12 AM ET

it will never happen ...because if it does then every professional sport will be in jeopardy....this will be like suing "BIG OIL" for producing gas and creating smog leading to lung disease......

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