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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Former Players Sue NFL’s Benefits Plan, Roger Goodell

  • Ten former players have sued NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the league's benefit plan, and its board of trustees.
  • The plaintiffs claim the defendants wrongfully denied their disability claims.
A closeup of Roger Goodell
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is facing a lawsuit as it prepares for Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII.

Ten former players sued commissioner Roger Goodell, the league’s benefit plan, and its board of trustees, for allegedly wrongfully denying their disability claims — a behavior the plaintiffs said was “motivated by financial considerations to limit the payment of benefits.”

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of a “disturbing pattern of erroneous and arbitrary benefits denials, bad-faith contract misinterpretations, and other unscrupulous tactics.”

  • Filed in the U.S. District Court for Maryland, the lawsuit seeks class-action status.
  • It also asks for financial damages and the removal of the board overseeing the plan.

The plaintiffs also claim decisions were made by physicians who had an interest in denying benefits.

“There is powerful statistical evidence that strongly suggests a systemic pattern that the more the Board pays a physician, the more likely the physician is to have a high rate of rendering opinions adverse to benefits applicants,” the lawsuit states.

Plaintiff Players

The plaintiffs, who are represented by several legal teams, include Willis McGahee, Jason Alford, Daniel Loper, Michael McKenzie, Jamize Olawale, Alex Parsons, Charles Sims, Joey Thomas, Lance Zeno, and Eric Smith — who, according to the lawsuit, suffered 13 documented traumatic brain injuries.

“Through this lawsuit, we are bringing these injustices to light and demanding the NFL fulfill its responsibilities to players rather than continue to try to dodge accountability every step of the way,” Eric Smith said.

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