NFL players, coaches, and administrators have long been the focus of the sport’s biggest controversies.
Now, the league is facing another controversy that could be more damaging than anything the NCAA or other major sports leagues have faced in the past.
The NFL and the NCAA both have been embroiled in a controversy surrounding player safety and how they handle head injuries.
The NCAA recently announced that the first two weeks of the 2018 season will be the last in which players will be suspended for the first time for a season.
And in March, former NFL players Chris Borland and Adam Thielen were fined $1.5 million for “grossly negligent” actions that caused the head injuries that led to Borland’s and Thielen’s deaths.
Now, an ongoing lawsuit from Borland, a former Penn State assistant coach, and former Penn St. assistant coach Adam Thielens’ attorneys is seeking an injunction to prevent the NCAA and the NFL from instituting rules that would allow head injuries to be treated more severely.
The lawsuit is a direct response to the new law in the state of Maryland that allows players to be suspended more harshly for head injuries than for minor injuries, such as concussion, or concussions.
According to the lawsuit, the law “unreasonably increases the severity of injury for minor head injuries by allowing players to have their suspension for a year or less increased from a year to five years or less, even for severe head injuries.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the new legislation “makes it easier for NFL players to suffer the same catastrophic injury to their heads and limbs that the NFL players who have died and been injured for years in the league suffer.”
The NFL has vehemently denied the allegations in the lawsuit and said the new laws were created to provide the safety of the game.
“We have always believed that our players are the best in the world, and our commitment to protecting their safety and well-being is a cornerstone of the NFL, and we’re confident our players will uphold our commitment,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.
“As the law stands, we have to continue to make decisions that protect our players’ health and safety, and that’s why we’re asking the courts to dismiss the lawsuit.”
The new law also comes as the NFL’s medical examiner, Dr. Michael Osterholm, announced that he was dropping the case against Borland.
“My family and I are extremely disappointed with Dr. Ostergaard’s decision, which was based solely on the science, not a political agenda,” Borland family attorney Robert Schmitt said in an emailed statement.
The lawsuit claims the new rule is the result of the Osterhams “financial and political influence” in the Maryland legislature and the Maryland state legislature.
The NFLPA, meanwhile, released a statement calling the lawsuit “completely baseless and unfounded.”
“We stand ready to defend our players and fans’ rights to be heard, and to have our voice heard,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said.
“This is a clear attempt by the NFLPA to silence the voices of its players and to undermine the ability of the people of Maryland to hold the NFL accountable for its horrific conduct.”