Three more former college football players have joined an already ongoing collection of class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and their individual conferences this week, claiming that there exists within the organization a “reckless disregard for the health and safety” of its athletes. These allegations refer specifically to the organization’s failure to properly treat players who have sustained concussive head injuries during practice or games, leaving them with negative side effects that last long after their college football careers have ended.
The newest players to join the increasing series of lawsuits have disturbing tales to tell about the alleged disregard of serious head trauma that they experienced throughout their college years. Willie Johnson, the former linebacker for Louisville from 2003 to 2005, claims that he suffered several sub-concussive and concussive head injuries throughout his college career that went untreated, and was instructed to “shake off” the injuries after they occurred and return to the game. James Harrison, former Murray State fullback from 2000 to 2005, states that he sustained injuries during practice and gameplay which were significant enough that he completely lost consciousness a few times.
Most unsettling are the claims made by former UK wide receiver DeMoreo Ford, who played from 2005 to 2009. Ford’s coach at this time, Rich Brooks, told reporters in 2008 that Ford had been advised by his doctors to end his career in football due to number of concussive injuries he had sustained at that point. Ford alleges that he was instructed to return to play on several occasions following serious concussive injuries during games and practices, including a 2007 game in which he sustained a concussion in the second quarter and was sent back into the game in the third quarter, in spite of the fact that he was vomiting during the halftime break between those quarters. Ford’s lawsuit states that he continues to suffer the residual effects of untreated head trauma, experiencing severe headaches, depression, mood swings and more.
These lawsuits are an addition to numerous similar suits that have already been filed in federal court by the Edelson PC law firm in Chicago. According to Edelson PC partner Christopher Dore, more lawsuits are on the way, which will continue to add wider coverage of accusation to schools across the nation. Dore stated that the wide reach of these lawsuits are meant to be a “demonstration that this is not a unique problem to just a small minority of schools”.