by Scott Mandel (and various wire services)
The NFL thought coming up with a $1 billion dollar cash kitty in response to a class action suit by NFL players suffering debilitating and even, suicidal mental conditions as a result of playing the sport would make this all go away.
Or, at the least, take it off the back pages of newspapers and the front pages of online outlets.
Except, more and more former players, all admittedly knowing what they were getting into when they became football players, are coming out of the woodwork to let the public know how serious their mental and physical problems have become.
At this moment in time, when star quarterback, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts suddenly retired yesterday, at age 29, because of the constant pain he is in after six years in the league and when Tim Green, the former star defensive lineman with the Atlanta Falcons appeared on 60 Minutes last night, as a victim of advancing Lou Gehrig’s Disease, also known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), the sport of football is at a crisis stage that will not go away or get better by paying off victims and their families.
After years of the lords of football denying the sport had anything to do with multiple suicides and post-career mental illness, enough studies have been completed of the brains of deceased NFL players to know there is now a direct link between participating in football at the highest levels of the sport and debilitated lives, thereafter.
Now, former Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain has gone public, complaining of head issues related to football and asking the league for help in a series of tweets since Saturday.
“I have to get my head checked. Playing fullback since high school. Its takes too f—ing much to do anything. My brain is f—ing tired,” he tweeted from @LeRon_McClain33. “@NFL i need some help with this s—. Dark times and its showing. F—ing help me please!! They dont care I had to get lawyers man!”
McClain played for the Ravens, Chiefs and Chargers in a seven-year NFL career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2008 and ’09 while with Baltimore. Also playing running back in 2008, he rushed for a career-high 902 yards with 10 touchdowns.
McClain, 34, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2007 out of Alabama.
On Saturday, he also tweeted: “Need to tell my story of how my head is crazy and how football did it…. Please someone help me get this out the @NFL puts paperwork in out faces and thats it. Yes its programs f— all that I need help now I need a plan….. F— Man. They dont f—ing get it man.”
McClain’s complaints come after a federal judge overseeing the $1 billion NFL concussion settlement terminated three of four lawyers serving as class counsel in May.
The order came just weeks after a hearing to air complaints about new rules that limit the doctors who can evaluate retired players for dementia and other brain injuries. Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody said she imposed the 150-miles-from-home rule to thwart doctor shopping and potential fraud alleged by the NFL as the more than $1 billion settlement fund is disbursed.
She named New York lawyer Christopher Seeger as the only attorney left who can handle issues on behalf of the 20,000-member class.
Outgoing class counsel Gene Locks told The Associated Press the order “extinguishes any remaining hope” that clients will be protected as they move through the contentious medical testing and award process. He told Brody at a hearing this month that there aren’t enough qualified neurologists, neuropsychologists and subspecialists taking part in the program to meet the close-to-home rule.
Seeger, in a statement, vowed to “continue to fight on behalf of former players and their families to ensure that they receive every benefit they deserve under the settlement.”
The players’ lawsuits had alleged the NFL long hid what it knew about the neurological risks of playing after concussions. The fund is meant to last for 65 years. The awards in the first two years of payouts alone reached $500 million this month, while another $160 million in awards has been approved but not yet paid.
The plan offers retired players baseline testing and compensation of up to $5 million for the most serious illnesses linked to football concussions, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and deaths involving chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Of the 872 awards paid to date, the average payout is just under $575,000, according to a claims administrator’s report this month.
McClain argued that his position was also holding him back from getting help.
“Watch how fast they come to aid if I was som3 QB or anything but no I was f—ing fullback that did it all,” he tweeted Saturday. “@NFL I need help and i need the process to speed the f— up Im about to crash out and its paperwork I dont wanna hear it. F— man im done…. Im out.”
A number of high-profile cases have brought attention to NFL head injuries and CTE. Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau died by a self-inflicted gunshot, as did former Bears great Dave Duerson. After being convicted of murder and hanging himself in prison, former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was found to have CTE in a postmortem exam.
After people reached out on Twitter expressing concern for McClain, he tweeted: “Man had a moment but just know Imma fight this thing and block it like im blocking 60 Pwr on the goaline. We gonna score!!!! I got this. Its just LiFE. #AlphaMental…. Thank you to my biscuit lol. Control what I control.”
But then Monday morning he expressed discomfort again: “Nights like this are the worst….. I cannot sleep… My anxiety is up… real talk im a f—ing mess. Like whats wrong with me man. Come on bro!!!! Smh…… Please just Pray for me! GodWinz GodWinz!!!!!!!”