When I started writing my “Where are the old Dallas Cowboys now?” series, I got excited about learning about the Cowboys of old. Charlie Waters, Walt Garrison, Don Meredith, Bill Bates, and Randy White; all part of the glory-days teams. Each one of those men had a strong will, massive valentines (the great Eddie Sutton’s word for hearts), work ethics not seen today, and a love for the game, not the money. They are one of the many reasons most of us are such fanatics for the Cowboys and the game of football. When writing the series finale on Randy White, I came across one tidbit of information that gave me a bit of heartburn. He, along with 2,707 (175 Dallas Cowboys) former players, are suing the National Football League. They believe that the organizations purposefully misled them about the long term risks associated with concussions. The NFL claims the players do not have a case.
The heartburn might have been due to my lunch, but my heart sank as I read the list of names, many beloved Cowboys, who are part of the numerous lawsuits around the country. My first initial reaction was outrage: (1) because these Cowboys and other NFL players KNEW what they were doing when they signed their NFL contracts and (2) they were probably just upset about the new player contracts and they want a piece of the pie. After some discussion with my level-headed co-worker, Greg, I backed off of my original disgust. My stance today: while I am not as upset, I still believe this is unnecessary and groundless litigation by the 2,700+.
I will not deny that the following Cowboys made me scratch my head in wonder as to why they are suing the NFL:
Tony Dorsett – 173 games played – 58 years old
Bob Lilly – 196 games played – 72 years old
Lee Roy Jordan – 186 games played – 71 years old
Randy White – 209 games played – 59 years old
Danny White – 92 games played – 60 years old
Charlie Waters – 160 games played – 63 years old
Cliff Harris – 141 games played – 63 years old
Walt Garrison – 119 games played – 67 years old
Roy Williams – 114 games played – 31 years old
Noel Scarlett – 1 game – 38 years old
My personal opinion is that they were well aware of the dangers of the game. Anyone who watches football can tell you it’s a dangerous sport. The players signed contracts which locked them into their agreed-upon deal. I would venture to guess that somewhere in those contracts, it was laid out in clear language what to expect in terms of dollars. The lawsuits range from $500,000 to unspecified damages. The question is: did the NFL intentionally and knowingly hide key information they were aware of in the 1970’s and 80’s?
The defendants must file a response by August 9, 2012. Motion to Dismiss will most likely be the NFL’s response. The NFL is a $10B – as in BILLION – dollar industry. If the plaintiffs were to win, they could potentially end the NFL as we know it.
Thank goodness Bill Bates, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and many more favorites are not currently suing. It’s a little disheartening that several beloved Cowboys are on the plaintiff’s list. Many still make money off of the Dallas Cowboy name. Is that not enough? Maybe the former players could be advocates for safer equipment or adding rules to the ever-growing list of “things you cannot do” on the football field. Keep this up, retired football players; there won’t be an NFL and we’ll all be watching grown men playing powder puff football on ESPN “the Ocho.”
What do you think Landry Hat readers – should the former players sue the NFL?