Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/16/12
A joint investigation conducted by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and PBS’ “Frontline” show could shed new light onto the issues surrounding the long-term effects of concussions players suffer while playing in the NFL. Despite the fact that the NFL has consistently denied any link between playing in the NFL and long-term brain damage, unpublished documents and medical records revealed that the league paid at least $2 million in disability benefits to players in the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to the investigation, the disability board determined in 1999 that Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and other players suffered brain damage while playing. Awarding players compensation for head injuries completely contradicts the public stance the NFL has taken regarding concussions. Bob Fitzsimmons, a lawyer who represented Webster in 1999 and co-director of the Brain Injury Research center, said the settlements could create major issues for the NFL. “It’s pretty devastating evidence,” Fitzsimmons said. “If the NFL takes the position that they didn’t know or weren’t armed with evidence that concussions can cause total disability — permanent disability, permanent brain injury — in 1999, that evidence trumps anything they say.” More than 4,000 players filed an official lawsuit against the NFL over the summer seeking compensation for the long-term effects of concussions they sustained during their NFL playing days. The lawsuit cites “intentional misrepresentation” and “negligence” by the league for allegedly not making players aware of the risks involved with playing the game. News that the NFL once compensated players for brain damage obviously gives the plaintiffs added leverage. When compensating Webster in 1999, the NFL disability board — basing its findings on five doctors — reportedly determined that he was “totally and permanently disabled” as a result of repeated blows to the head during his 17-year playing career. “The Retirement Board determined that Mr. Webster’s disability arose while he was an Active Player,”  Sarah E. Gaunt, director of the NFL’s retirement plan, wrote in a letter to Fitzsimmons in 2000. “(The medical reports) indicate that his disability is the result of head injuries he suffered as a football player with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs.” It was determined that the board granted two other players “total and permanent” disability because of mental impairment. Other interviews and documents, which ESPN and PBS could not verify, indicate that other players also received compensation for head injuries after they had retired. Many of those individual cases were considered to be “confidential.” This is obviously incredibly bad news for the NFL, as it basically proves they have admitted that playing football can lead to serious long-term brain damage, which is exactly what they have been attempting to disprove for years. The NFL has declined to comment but spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an email that decisions made by the retirement board are independent and “are not made by the NFL or by the NFL Players Association.” More to come on this, I’m sure.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Adam Eaton gets 4th of July surprise from brother

Clippers in talks with JaVale McGee, Amar’e Stoudemire

Report: LeBron won't negotiate with Cavs until Thompson is signed

Andrei Kostitsyn interested in return to NHL

Blazers fire assistant who said Aldridge was leaving team

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Miguel Cabrera lands on DL for first time in his career

LaMarcus Aldridge chooses to sign with Spurs

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

Kosta Koufos agrees to deal with Kings

Report: Blues in trade talks about Kevin Shattenirk

Report: Gregg Popovich plans to fulfill five-year contract

4-Star LB commits to Kentucky, zings Louisville

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

Roy Hibbert likely being traded to Lakers

WATCH: Pablo Sandoval falls over railing during catch

Report: Packers TE charged with firing a gun in Miami

Kawhi, LaMarcus, the mid-range and the Spurs' next epoch

How can Rafael Nadal regain his dominance?

NBA Rumors: Cavs and Spurs vying for David West

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.