On August 16, FoxSports.com’s Alex Marvez broke the story of a lawsuit against the National Football League’s Bert Bell / Pete Rozelle Retirement Plan, in federal court in Maryland, by retired player Andrew Stewart. I discussed the case at https://concussioninc.net/?p=4421.
The premise of Marvez’s piece aligned with an important investigative angle of this blog: that the Stewart suit might reveal more about the work on the disability claims review board of Dave Duerson. But it turns out that, while Stewart’s attorneys have made a lot of progress in getting scrutiny in open court of the board’s inner workings – a very good thing – Duerson himself did not participate in the deliberations of Stewart’s particular case in August of last year.
The three NFL Players Association representatives on the board for Stewart’s review were Andre Collins, Robert Smith, and Jeff Van Note. “I do not know why Duerson was not on the Board that day,” Stewart attorney Michael Rosenthal emailed me.
According to John Hogan, who represents many retired players from his disability law practice in Georgia, retirement board members occasionally designate others as proxies, and that is probably what happened here. The whole process is mysterious and secretive, which is why we need the drip-drip-drip of additional cases to break down the NFL and NFLPA’s limestone wall. (The judge in the Stewart case has set a trial date, though he has not yet ruled on whether to permit live testimony. But the court seems to be leaning that way.)
As I’ve said many times, perhaps the most tumultuous litigation for the football-concussion system isn’t by professionals. Rather, it involves youth athletes and the financial exposure of public schools for disabling injury and wrongful death. Without tackle football mania at the grassroots, the $10-billion-a-year NFL cannot recruit, inculcate, and thrive. We already know of one lawsuit in New Jersey by the family of a kid who died from a second concussion after being cleared to return to play – with the help of NFL and World Wrestling Entertainment witch doctor Joseph Maroon’s “ImPACT concussion management” software.