George Martin, John Harris sue NFL

BY foxsports • July 25, 2012

George Martin was hesitant to back the upswell of concussion lawsuits filed by former players when he served as president and executive director of the NFL Alumni Association.

But two months after he stepped down in the wake of a FOXSports.com investigation into his tenure at the NFLAA, Martin has joined more than 3,000 former NFL players in seeking legal action against the NFL over head injuries.

Martin, a former New York Giants defensive end, and John Harris, a former Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings safety, on Monday filed a joint lawsuit against the league in federal court.

Martin and Harris are seeking in excess of $5 million in damages, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. All the civil litigation against the NFL has been consolidated in that US District Court.

News of the Martin-Harris lawsuit was first reported Wednesday by Paul D. Anderson of nflconcussionlitigation.com.

Though the NFLAA was established three years ago to advocate on behalf of retired players, it remained silent on the topic of head injuries during Martin’s tenure, from October 2009 through last May.

A FOXSports.com investigation in January showed financial mismanagement that included lavish spending habits, contracts funneled to Martin’s family members and Super Bowl tickets siphoned off to a charity Martin founded. In addition, the NFLAA spent more than $4 million in loans from the NFL with Martin at the helm.

As a star player with the Giants, Martin “suffered repeated hits and blows to the head” from 1975 through 1988, according to the lawsuit, brought on behalf of Martin and Harris by Boston-based lawyer Anthony Tarricone of Kreindler and Kreindler.

“As a result of the head trauma suffered during his playing career, George Martin suffers from symptoms associated with multiple traumatic brain injury and CTE,” according to the lawsuit, which was obtained Wednesday by FOXSports.com.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) can currently be diagnosed only postmortem. Researchers in Boston and Pittsburgh discovered the disease after studying the brains of deceased athletes, including several boxers and football players.

The symptoms of CTE vary, but they include insomnia, depression, memory loss, the loss of impulse control and dementia. The lawsuit didn’t detail Martin’s specific symptoms. Harris has the same symptoms, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims the NFL has known the risk of concussions for decades and “ignored and suppressed” information surrounding the risk of head trauma. In recent years, the league has put a priority on preventing and treating brain injuries, including the establishment of more stringent return-to-play standards and new rules governing hits to the head.



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