Gale Sayers denies he's suing NFL, Riddell over head injuries

Gale Sayers says he did not sign any papers involving a lawsuit filed against the NFL and Riddell, the helmetmaker, over head injuries. Gale Sayers played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1972.

(AP Photo/Larry Stoddard, File)
In this Nov. 27, 1967 photo, Green Bay Packers Dave Robinson (89) chases Chicago Bears' Gale Sayers (40) during an NFL football game in Chicago. Sayers is suing the NFL and Riddell, the helmet maker, for failing to protect him from head injuries.

Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers denied that he is suing the National Football League and helmet maker Riddell.

Gale Sayers told the Chicago Tribune on Saturday that he did not consent to a lawsuit filed on his behalf Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago that alleges the NFL was negligent in handling his repeated head injuries.

A lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claiming that Sayers, who played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1972, suffers headaches, occasional short-term memory loss and other cognitive deficits. Court documents say  the affliction is caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the "Sayers’ lawsuit claims fraudulent misrepresentation by the NFL, saying that the NFL didn’t do enough to warn Sayers that playing through concussions could cause permanent brain damage."

But on Saturday Sayers told the Tribune that he did not agree to sue the NFL.

"I had about one half of a concussion in all of the years that I played," said Sayers, whose seven-year career ended prematurely in 1971 because of severe knee injuries. "I didn't say any of the things he said in the paper."

A spokesman for the NFL did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Rosemont, Ill.-based Riddell declined to comment.

As reported last month, in a settlement with the players association, the NFL agreed to pay $765 million dollars nearly all going to any former players — not just those who went to court — with dementia or other concussion-related health problems, even if the cause was not the very on-field violence that fueled professional football's rise in popularity and profit.

The deal stipulates that it is not to be considered an admission of liability by the NFL.

That settlement, unprecedented in sports, came after more than a year of discussions between the sides and two months of court-ordered mediation. Subject to approval by a federal judge, it came exactly a week before the first game of the 2013 season, removing a major legal and financial threat hanging over the sport.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.