More than 2,000 former NFL players have joined forces in a lawsuit due to be filed on Thursday alleging the league deliberately and fraudulently concealed from players the risk of brain injury from playing professional football.
The master complaint joins together more than 80 lawsuits previously filed by former players on a topic that has generated increasing concern following the suicides of former players such as Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau on May 2.
The 86-page lawsuit was due to be filed at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit," the National Football League said in a statement.
Former players complain precautions against brain injury have only been implemented in recent years, and that players from decades past were exposed to long-term neurological injuries as a result of repeated impacts, often returning to play prematurely after suffering concussions.
Joining the lawsuits "will allow the thousands of former NFL players and their families to finally hold the league accountable for its misconduct," the plaintiffs said in a news release.
Among those suing the league is Mary Ann Easterling, widow of Ray Easterling, 62, a former Atlanta Falcons safety who committed suicide in April after suffering from what she suspected was dementia in addition to depression and insomnia.
Also part of the suit is Kevin Turner, 42, a former Philadelphia Eagles running back who says he suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, which he believes was caused by injuries sustained while playing in the NFL.
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