Former pro football player Paul Hornung recently sued Riddell Sports, the manufacturer of the helmets he used during his years in the game. Hornung claims Riddell’s helmets did nothing to protect him from brain injury. Riddell was the NFL’s helmet maker from 1989 to 2014.
Hornung, 80, won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame in 1956, was named MVP while playing in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
He says in his lawsuit that he suffered concussions and subconcussive brain traumas while wearing Riddell's helmets. He further alleges that these helmets provided no protection from brain injuries. Yet, players "were led to believe that the innovative helmets would do so," Hornung adds.
Hornung, like many other players, has been diagnosed with dementia and, according to his lawyer, "it's suspected that his brain has the telltale signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)." CTE cannot be diagnosed until after death. Hornung is, according to his lawyer, showing symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease.
Players Joining Forces Against Riddell
According to Hornung’s complaint, Riddell "knew of the long-term effects of brain traumas sustained by football players while wearing [its] supposed protective equipment." Riddell didn’t warn players that they were in danger.
Riddell has also been sued by Chelsea Oliver, the widow of former NFL player Paul Oliver. Mrs. Oliver sued after Oliver shot himself in front of Chelsea and their two children in 2013. Paul Oliver played five seasons in the NFL. He was diagnosed with CTE after his death.
Hornung and Oliver are not alone in their suits against Riddell. Over 100 former players are involved in a lawsuit with Riddell. Riddell’s future looks bleak as it is alleged that new evidence has surfaced that Riddell and the NFL knew more about the risks of concussion than they let on.
The NFL is expected to settle a $1 billion lawsuit from 2013 involving more than 20,000 former players. The lawsuit against Riddell will move forward after that.
According to recent reports, some of Riddell’s claims about its helmets were not supported. For example, in 2006, it claimed that its Revolution helmets would reduce concussions by 31%. Riddell didn’t test the helmets for the hits that cause concussions.
CTE and other brain injuries that plague professional football players can be debilitating. Many families are left without the loved one they once knew. Football players and their families should, and are, taking action against those who knew of the dangers and left them in the dark.