Ex-red­skin Ryp­ien sues NFL over head in­juries

Lead plain­tiff in a 126-player law­suit

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY NATHAN FENNO

For­mer Washington Red­skins quar­ter­back Mark Ryp­ien has sued the NFL over “re­peated trau­matic in­juries to his head” sus­tained dur­ing his 11sea­son ca­reer.

Mr. Ryp­ien is the lead plain­tiff in a mass-tort law­suit filed Fri­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court for the East­ern Dis­trict of Penn­syl­va­nia. Tak­ing part in the law­suit are 126 for­mer play­ers, in­clud­ing 14 other ex-red­skins, as well as Tony Man­darich and Todd Mari­novich. The law­suit al­leges that the NFL was aware of the risks of repet­i­tive trau­matic brain in­jury but hid the in­for­ma­tion and mis­led play­ers, re­sult­ing in per­ma­nent brain dam­age or neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders.

“It’s scary the ex­tent to which these guys have been hurt,” said Gene Locks, the plain­tiffs’ lead at­tor­ney. “When we played foot­ball, bro­ken bones, busted noses, tears of tis­sue were kind of ex­pected. No­body said you’d get a head

in­jury. . . . These in­juries are in­sid­i­ous, they are la­tent, de­gen­er­a­tive, and it gets worse and worse as you get older in cer­tain play­ers.”

Ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, Mr. Ryp­ien “suf­fers from var­i­ous neu­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions and symp­toms re­lated to the mul­ti­ple head trau­mas.”

The same lan­guage is used for each of the 125 other plain­tiffs. The other ex-red­skins in­cluded in the law­suit are: Michael Batiste, Keith Big­gers, Ja­son Do­er­ing, Brad Fich­tel, Scott Gal­braith, Terry Hoage, Ethan Hor­ton, Ernie Janet, Bruce Kim­ball, Ron Mid­dle­ton, John Pergine, Ed Sim­mons, Wal­ter Stan­ley and James St­ef­fen.

Some have spec­u­lated NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell’s harsh penal­ties against the New Or­leans Saints for their bounty pro­gram was, in part, a re­ac­tion to the flurry of con­cus­sion law­suits. Con­cus­sions have also dogged the Na­tional Hockey League, which has ex­pe­ri­enced a sharp in­crease in re­ported head in­juries the past two sea­sons.

“I think it took them too long,” Mr. Locks said of Mr. Good­ell’s re­sponse. “They re­ally should’ve done things a long time ago. They didn’t.”

Asked for com­ment on the lat­est law­suit, the NFL on Tues­day re­leased a state­ment through a league spokesman:

“The NFL has long made player safety a pri­or­ity and con­tin­ues to do so. Any al­le­ga­tion that the NFL in­ten­tion­ally sought to mis­lead play­ers has no merit. It stands in con­trast to the league’s ac­tions to bet­ter pro­tect play­ers and ad­vance the sci­ence and med­i­cal un­der­stand­ing of the man­age­ment and treat­ment of con­cus­sions.”

Mr. Ryp­ien led the Red­skins to a 37-24 win over the Buf­falo Bills in Su­per Bowl XXVI and was named the game’s Most Valu­able Player, the high­light of his six sea­sons with the team. He also played for the Cleve­land Browns, In­di­anapo­lis Colts, Philadel­phia Ea­gles and St. Louis Rams.

Mr. Ryp­ien, 49, re­sides in Spokane, Wash., and over­sees the Ryp­ien Foun­da­tion he es­tab­lished in 2004 to as­sist fam­i­lies bat­tling child­hood can­cer.

Mes­sages seek­ing com­ment from Mr. Ryp­ien through his foun­da­tion weren’t im­me­di­ately re­turned Tues­day.

This the lat­est in a string of law­suits tar­get­ing the NFL over head in­juries. One site track­ing the le­gal ma­neu­vers, Nflcon­cus­sion­l­it­i­ga­tion.com, es­ti­mates that 51 law­suits have been filed against the NFL. That in­cludes five wrong­ful death law­suits.

Mr. Locks es­ti­mates that his Locks Law Firm rep­re­sents 500 to 600 ex-play­ers who have filed suit against the NFL over head in­juries.

Mr. Ryp­ien’s law­suit cov­ers eight counts in­clud­ing, like many of the other law­suits, con­spir­acy to de­fraud, fraud and neg­li­gence.

In 1995, Mr. Ryp­ien told USA To­day that he sus­tained two con­cus­sions in his ca­reer.

“I thought that was two too many,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer Washington Red­skins quar­ter­back Mark Ryp­ien is, along with 125 other for­mer play­ers, su­ing the NFL over head in­juries suf­fered while play­ing in the league.

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