Brett Favre Speaks Out Against Head Injury Risks

While the two Super Bowl quarterbacks are getting most of the headlines, the Hall of Famer made headlines of his own when he said that he would discourage his grandchildren from playing football.

In an interview, Favre called football concussions “a scary issue.” Additionally, traumatic head injuries in football are going to get worse as the quality of play improves, he predicted. As for his grandchildren, Favre said that he would rather “be a caddie for them in golf than watch them play football.” The former quarterback is no stranger to head injuries. In the 2009 NFC Championship Game, Favre said he probably sustained a concussion but stayed in the game. One of the most violent hits he absorbed did not even draw a flag.

Injuries like this are very common in professional football, he opined, because he experienced basically the same symptoms “pretty much every time I got hit, or my head hit the turf. And I’m sure most players could say that.”

Head Injuries: A Closer Look

Football has been down this road before. In 1904, eighteen players died on the gridiron and over 150 more were seriously injured. Only some major rules changes, and the personal intervention of President Theodore Roosevelt, kept the game alive.

Serious injuries like these are still a problem. In 2017, Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller faced possible leg amputation after a gruesome broken bone injury. But head injuries are a far more prevalent problem. These wounds are notoriously difficult to diagnose. The symptoms vary; for example, some victims completely lose consciousness and others are simply dazed. As a result, doctors often misdiagnose car accident-related head injuries as either shock from the crash or early onset dementia.

Each year, well over a million Americans visit hospital emergency rooms because of head injuries. Some common causes include:

  • Motor vehicle collisions,
  • Falls,
  • Assaults, and
  • Sporting events.

At first, victims experience a partial or complete loss of consciousness. Afterwards, they often appear fine for several hours or even several days. Then, symptoms like tinnitus (ringing in the ears), mood swings, severe headaches, and trouble sleeping become too pervasive to ignore. In the final stages, most victims experience memory loss and loss of function.

Traumatic brain injuries are permanent and degenerative. However, extensive physical therapy can manage the symptoms.

Debunking Some Common Defenses in Head Injury Claims

In many sports-related head injury cases, insurance company or sports league lawyers try to invoke the assumption of the risk defense. This rule excuses negligent conduct if the victim:

  • Voluntarily assumed
  • A known risk.

Sometimes, the defendant tries to use a written waiver to establish voluntary assumption. But many of these waivers are take-it-or-leave-it contracts of adhesion. They are not voluntary in a legal sense. Moreover, given the still-emerging nature of the science, it is almost impossible for a defendant to establish that the victim assumed a “known” risk.

As players get older, defendants sometimes claim that their injuries occurred much earlier in life. But under the eggshell skull rule, a pre-existing condition is normally not a defense to negligent conduct.

Football players of almost any age or skill level may be entitled to significant compensation for their brain injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Home and hospital visits are available.