NFL Brain Injury Lawsuit Continues


The wrongful-death lawsuit concerning a 22-year-old Frostburg State University football player is one of the most recent in a rash of brain injury lawsuits being held against the grueling game practices of the NCAA and the NFL. Named as the defendant in the concussion-related death of university student Derek Sheely, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has a reputation of poorly educating players about catastrophic injury, and does little to prevent concussions that can lead to brain trauma.

Derek Sheely collapsed shortly after walking off the field at a pre-season camp on August 22nd, 2011. The lawsuit alleges that this pre-season camp included extensive and grueling practice session that sent the players into intense and repeated head-to-head collisions. During this practice, Sheely was seen bleeding from his forehead before returning to the field for drills, and just prior to his collapse he reported a headache and other symptoms. The aspiring young player remained in a coma for six days before his death on August 28th.

According to one of Sheely’s teammates, the training that produced the fatal injury was ‘out of control’. The lawsuit brought against the NCAA alleges that Sheely was never checked for concussions during practice, and Frostburg’s team policy does not afford any specific treatment to injuries that could cause potential brain damage. The university’s team policy does not even contain the word ‘concussion’, and treats head trauma with the same regard as a sprained knee. This reflects the lack of concern that is alleged against the defense both in this lawsuit and in the potential NFL settlements over massive brain injury lawsuits.

Though the NFL claims that the safety of their players is a top priority, a record of preventable injuries and fatalities continues to inspire players and their families to seek millions of dollars in potential settlements. Likewise, the NCAA was founded in 1900 with a pledge to protect players, yet historically fails to provide players with the education and resources that could prevent stories like Derek Sheely’s from happening in the future.


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