Media attention has focused on the dangers of brain damage from concussions in football players following the report on research, discussed in a recent blog, that found chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, in 99 percent of the brains of deceased NFL players.
Hockey is second only to American football in the incidence of concussions among players. Ten former National Hockey League players launched a concussion lawsuit against the NHL in 2010. Their numbers grew to more than 100. They claim the league didn’t do enough to protect them from the dangers of head trauma. They knew fighting, big hits and physical play were a big selling point for their sport. They suffered concussions, some of them multiple untreated concussions, during their hockey careers. Some are already experiencing CTE-like problems, while others are concerned that they’ll face them in the future. The league argues that no one understood the dangers of concussions during the plaintiffs’ careers, and the players were given reasonable care given what was known at the time.
On October 11, a court will be asked to decide whether the case should qualify as a class-action lawsuit. If the court agrees, reported thescore.com, more than 5,000 former NHL players who suffered from concussion-related problems “will instantly become plaintiffs. …Only players who elect to opt out of the case would be excluded from the proceedings and any potential payout.”
One of the plaintiffs is Jeff Parker, one of three Minnesota brothers who won national championships in college. He skated in the NHL for five seasons. In an interview on Eyewitness News, he said his ears ring constantly, he needs to spend days in the dark, and that it hurts worse when he thinks about it so he tries not to.
“If you’ve played the game and need a new knee or shoulder or if you’ve smashed your elbow, or if you’ve had concussions, it would be nice to be taken care of,” Parker told presspubs.com. The plaintiffs “are not looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just health insurance.” Parker, who works as a bartender to avoid sunlight, and receives $366 a month from the NHL for his five years in the league, believes a settlement will ultimately be reached: “It’s just a matter of time.”