Dan Marino Reportedly Withdraws Name From NFL Lawsuit Over Unstated Concussion Risk

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Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino initially joined 14 football players in suing the NFL, but now he may be backing out. Reuters

After Monday’s announcement that Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino would join 14 other former NFL players in a lawsuit against the league, claiming it misled players about their risks for concussion, Marino has now withdrawn, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Since the first diagnosis in 2002, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — a neurodegenerative disease similar to dementia, but only visible after death — has made the news countless times, and often in the same breath as the NFL. Droves of ex-athletes are now emerging from retirement with lifelong brain damage that, they allege, was sustained as a result of multiple, sub-concussive hits during their careers.

Originally, Marino and 14 other players intended to sue the NFL for falsely advertising the risks involved with professional football. The league attempted to rectify the swelling issue last August, when it proposed a settlement of $765 million. This money would go toward funding medical exams, compensating sufferers, and facilitating research. In January, a federal judge blocked that settlement, however. Since 2011, more than 4,500 of the 18,000 total retired football players have sued the league for damages they didn’t know could happen.

Marino, who retired in 1999, was reportedly onboard as of Monday, but has since backed out. A source told the Sun-Sentinel that it was never Marino’s intention to “initiate litigation, but to ensure that in the event he had adverse health consequences down the road, he would be covered with health benefits,” the source said.

Marino has previously stated that he’s sustained two concussions over his 17-year career, with the traumatic, sub-concussive blows that have become the grim hallmark of retired football stars. Other players still involved in the lawsuit claim unspecific damages and medical monitoring, the Associated Press reported. The lawsuit does not specify any medical problems.

In these cases, CTE and other neurological damage results from fairly predictable sources. Players who throw themselves at each other, despite the padding afforded by their helmets, unknowingly send their brains bashing into the insides of their skulls. Over time, this intense jostling creates long-term damage. Players exit professional football with slurred speech, degraded memories, and deficient motor skills.

Making matters worse in years prior was an absent tackling policy in the NFL. Before March of 2013, players were not penalized if they led with their head to execute a tackle. Now, any tackle that clearly comes in head-first is served a 15-yard penalty. “The sensitivity has changed dramatically over the last, probably, five years,” Howard Katz, senior vice president of media operations for the NFL, told The New York Times. “Nobody thought anything about the crashing helmets and the implication of the crashing helmets,” he said of his prior experience at Monday Night Football.

Marino’s decision will ultimately be released as early as late Tuesday, depending on how discussions go between the NFL and the players involved. “They are working to correct the error,” a source said to the Sun-Sentinel.

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