Ten former NFL players are suing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league’s benefits plan and its administrative board, saying retired players were wrongfully denied benefits.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Maryland, claims supposedly neutral doctors were rewarded by the NFL with a greater number of cases, and therefore more money, if they denied more player claims.
In addition to limiting benefits to players, the lawsuit claims board members often did not review medical cases as expected.
Among the players named as plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit were Willis McGahee, a two-time Pro Bowl all-star in 10 NFL seasons, and Eric Smith, who spent seven seasons as a safety for the New York Jets.
The lawsuit claims concealment, lies and misrepresentations of facts plus “illogical interpretations” of benefits plan terms led to “a pattern of systemic bias” against disabled NFL players.
The filing comes after a season in which NFL players suffered notable injuries, include Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin having cardiac arrest and collapsing on the field after a hard hit and Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa suffering multiple concussions.
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