Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

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In the never-ending saga of the NFL players' class action lawsuits against teams and the league, new information has surfaced about many teams' alleged failure to comply with federal drug laws. The allegations include claims that several teams' athletic trainers, doctors, and staff were administering and providing prescription drugs in clear violation of federal laws, even after the DEA cautioned teams against doing so. This class action suit involves close to 2,000 former players who suffered injury or damages as a result of these actions.

The new information came to light as a result of the discovery process in the player class action that was initially alleging that teams were pushing players to take painkillers in order to be able to perform better on the field. The reason the class action was allowed to continue in court, rather than being forced into arbitration like some other player actions have been, is due to the illegal conduct surrounding the administration of the federal controlled prescription drugs.

Ever since the 1950's, football players from high school to the NFL have participated in the "Oklahoma Drill." Developed by legendary coach Bud Wilkinson at the University of Oklahoma, the drill pits two players battling for yardage in a confined space. Often starting with both players having a 3-yard head of steam, the Oklahoma Drill is defined by a "helmet-popping collision, testing the resolve of those involved with their teammates and coaches watching on."

Given recent research on concussions in football and especially head-to-head contact, many teams have phased out the drill to protect players. But a former player from Pennsylvania claims the drill caused him a traumatic head injury, post traumatic stress, and "will adversely affect his life."

Football is a dangerous sport. Even though professional players get paid big salaries, when a player is injured playing the game, they can still qualify for workers' compensation like any other employee. Although workers' comp laws vary from state to state, generally, so long as an employee's injury occurs on the job, that employee will likely qualify for workers' comp if the injury renders them unable to work.

However, in Illinois and other states, the professional sports leagues are attempting to get legislation passed that would limit a professional athlete's ability to recover from workers' comp. for injuries suffered while performing. What makes these proposals so controversial is the fact that over the last decade, more and more information is being learned about player concussions and the many different permanent injuries that can manifest years after a player retires.

O.J. Simpson, once affectionately known as 'Juice' by friends and former-fans worldwide, could soon be a free man. O.J. was convicted nearly a decade ago in a sports memorabilia heist in Las Vegas, where he, along with others, were arrested for the armed robbery of a sports memorabilia dealer. Although he was sentenced to 30 years, he is eligible for parole this year. If denied, he'll have to wait until 2022 for his next opportunity at parole.

Based upon one report, it appears likely that the Juice will be let loose as he has avoided all trouble while incarcerated. Nevada uses a point system to guide the parole board's discretionary decision, and based upon the information publicly available, he seems poised to have a good chance of being granted parole. Nevada's system recognizes that O.J. is an older convict, with no write-ups, no criminal history, a stable employment history, and that during his incarceration he availed himself of the rehabilitation and education services offered by the institution. Despite public opinion, based upon the Nevada parole board's criterion, the Juice appears to be a model inmate.

As if the Sandusky name had not been sullied enough, Jeffrey Sandusky, adopted son of former Penn State football assistant coach and convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky, was arrested and charged yesterday on a multitude of child sex charges.

The charges involve text messages to two girls -- one 15 and the other 16-years-old at the time -- asking for naked photos and oral sex. Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told the AP Sandusky "made statements. I wouldn't classify them necessarily as directly inculpatory, but I don't think they helped him much."

A recent lawsuit filed against Brandon Spikes, of the Buffalo Bills, is seeking payment of a court judgment that was the result of unpaid fish services performed by "the Fish Guy." Spikes, apart for being known for his ability to tackle and move back and forth between the Bills and Patriots, enjoys his tropical fish. Unfortunately, during one of the moves between Buffalo and New England, tropical fish drama ensued. Following the fish drama, the Fish Guy filed his fishy lawsuit.

Spikes had hired the Fish Guy in order to pack up and move his tropical fish and aquarium. Spikes had also purchased a large, $8,000 fish tank from the Fish Guy. During the move, and shortly after, approximately $2,500 worth of Spikes' fish died. Spikes believes that the deaths are due in part to the new tank that was not right, despite being recommended by the Fish Guy, and due to the Fish Guy's negligent packing and moving of them.

While sports teams, leagues, conferences, colleges, and even coaches and other staff have been put in the hot seat over concussion-gate, the well known helmet maker Riddell is being brought into the fray by college and high school football players. While the NFL players' lawsuit against the helmet maker started in the middle of last year and has gone nowhere yet, a class-action was filed last month against the same helmet maker on behalf of former high school and college players.

The new lawsuit contains many of the same allegations as the NFL players' suit regarding the helmet company's safety claims, as well as allegations that the manufacturer failed to warn players about the dangers of repeated concussions, which their helmets could not prevent. It is alleged that Riddell was aware that its marketing and advertising were misleading, and that they misrepresented the safety of their helmets.

Football is one of those sports where the fans delight in the big plays and the big hits. But, over the last few years, after the controversy over player concussions and the link to long-term illness was exposed, big hits are now seen as big risks.

This month, another federal lawsuit was filed against the NCAA by former college football players alleging long-term injuries related to concussions suffered while playing college ball. The five players are all alleging that the NCAA, as well as the Big 12 conference, failed to warn and protect players from the long-term risks of concussions.

Three former high school football players have sued their school's head coach, saying they were kicked off the varsity team after standing up to the head coach's bullying. The three star players and former co-captains of the team also allege the school's principal told them that while bullying is prohibited in the classroom, it is permissible on the football field.

"The public policy point we're trying to make is that this conduct is as prohibited on the athletic field as it is in the classroom," the boys' attorney told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "This coach was over the top and played a significant role in harming these students and their future."

Nagging litigation between the National Football League and retired players over treatment of concussions might finally be drawing to a close. The two sides first reached a settlement over three years ago, but the settlement itself has been contentious, with hundreds of former players opting out of the settlement to file their own lawsuits and a judge even saying that the initial settlement amount of $765 million wasn't enough.

But, finally, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the settlement, meaning it could go into effect as early as March, when the NFL will begin paying out around $1 billion over the next 65 years.