Marino Next to Sue NFL?
Before Dan Marino backtracked yesterday and said his name inclusion on a law suit against the NFL was a mistake, I wondered if his star power would make any difference. The former Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback was originally listed on the suit, suing the NFL for the same reasons that almost 5,000 other former players are doing so. Marino says he originally authorized a claim with his name on it in case he needed any medical coverage down the line, but never intended his name to be directly listed on a law suit. He has withdrawn his name from this separate group of 14 former players, suing the league because they allege that the NFL didn’t properly protect or inform players of health risks.
Marino hadn’t listed any specific injuries he suffered but he did have a number of concussions during his long career. Whether Marino is in this suit or not, somehow, someway, the league and commissioner Roger Goodall need to properly address and settle this issue with the former players. The evidence is just too overwhelming, the stories of former players, including former Cowboy greats Tony Dorsett and Rayfield Wright, are virtually the same.
Players suffered injuries, whether a head or knee or neck, and were either told they were okay and put back on the field or given excessive pain killers to which they became dependent. The league settled a class action suit a year ago with former players for almost $800 million dollars but a judge ruled that was too low a figure. The NFL is the 800 pound gorilla in sports. Their profits dwarf all other sports, upwards of $9 billion per year, so $800 million is not even one tenth of the league’s one year revenue.
A player like Marino may not be hurting for money to pay his medical bills; aside from his playing days he makes a very nice living with endorsements and his television work with CBS. But thousands of other former players didn’t play in an era where everyone made millions of dollars, and their bills keep stacking up. Or worse, they’re no longer alive because of their injuries and their families struggle to catch up with the previous medical expenses.
With so much money coming into the league, one has to wonder why the NFL just can’t do the right thing and pay whatever is fair to make the players (who helped get the NFL where it is today) whole. This entire sordid thing started with a few obscure former players but now it has spread to Hall of Famers like Dorsett, Brett Favre and Ronnie Lott. Maybe their names will get Goodall’s attention. Maybe it will take one of the “big name” guys to die for someone at the NFL to care. Oh, that’s right, Junior Seau committed suicide after years of depression attributed to head injuries suffered during his playing days and nothing changed.
It’s almost unfathomable that a business that’s so respected and admired in this country can turn a blind eye to the wrongs it committed over the past decades. If the NFL agreed to pay the former players a few billion over the next few years, it would solve many of the problems for the players, be a public relations shot in the arm for the league and not change one thing in the lives of the super rich owners. And let’s be honest, the commissioner works for Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft and the Rooney family, all of whom say they love their players and would do anything for them. Except, apparently, open their wallets for the ones who can’t do anything for them anymore on Sundays.