Ray Easterling, former player for the Atlanta Falcons, died Thursday at age 62 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to an article in The New York Times, Easterling was part of a group of former NFL players who sued the league, claiming that it had failed to treat players for concussions, and for attempting to conceal links between football concussions and long-term brain injuries.
An article on USAToday.com reported that the 61st concussion lawsuit was filed in federal court in Philadelphia by 28 former NFL players. In total, more than 1,260 players have filed concussion-related suits against the NFL. The suits blame that the players suffered long-term damage from concussions due to the league’s “carelessness, negligence, intentional misconduct, and concealment of information.”
As we wrote in previous blogs last year, multiple concussions can result in a brain disorder known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. This progressive, incurable condition leads to memory loss, depression, and dementia. Unfortunately, the only way to definitively diagnose CTE is after death, by autopsy. Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy has been researching the link between football and CTE. Of the brains of 15 former NFL players, 14 showed signs of CTE.
According to The New York Times, Easterling’s widow, Mary Ann Easterling, will continue to pursue the lawsuit on behalf of her husband, and she is urging the league to establish a fund for players with traumatic brain injuries related to their playing days.
“Half the time the player puts themselves back in the game, and they don’t know what kind of impact it has,” she said. “Somehow this has got to be stopped.”
Friends and Easterling’s attorney, Larry Coben, said that Easterling had not been himself for about the past six months. According to Coben:
“I could tell he was not on his game. He kept repeating himself and getting confused. It’s pretty tough, pretty tough.”
To read the full story in The New York Times, click here: Ray Easterling, of Atlanta’s Gris Blitz, Dies at 62
To read the full story on USAToday.com, click here: Easterling’s death will impact concussion lawsuit
To learn more about the NFL lawsuits, click here: NFLConcussionLitigation.com
To watch our video about concussion, click here: Concussion Safety