Seventeen Pro Football Hall of Famers and Dave Robinson, who will be inducted this weekend, have signed a letter telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell they are concerned about medical care for former players and the league's "continued denial of the link between repeated head impacts and permanent brain damage."
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday and signed by NFL greats including Tony Dorsett, Floyd Little, Leroy Kelly and Paul Krause, comes just a few days ahead of the Hall of Fame festivities in Canton, Ohio.
The league is being sued by about 4,200 players who say they suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions, which they believe stem from on-field concussions. Ten of the letter's signees are plaintiffs in the ongoing legal fight: Dorsett, Kelly, Krause, Lem Barney, Chris Doleman, Mel Renfro, Tommy McDonald, Randy White, Rayfield Wright and Joe DeLamielleure.
Goodell and the NFL insist that player safety has always been a top priority, and league spokesman Greg Aiello told the AP in an email Wednesday night that the players don't have their facts right.
"We have not seen the letter, but we make no such denial regarding concussions," Aiello said. "In fact, our concussion poster for players in every locker room, created in conjunction with the CDC a few years ago, states: 'Repetitive brain injury, when not managed promptly and properly, may cause permanent damage to your brain.'"
In the concussion legal dispute, a federal judge in Philadelphia has ordered the two sides into mediation over how the complaints will be litigated — in court or in arbitration. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody asked for a progress report by Sept. 3 and put a gag order on the lawyers involved.