A federal arbitrator ruled that former National Football League (NFL) player Ben Utecht should not have been cleared to play after he suffered a concussion during practice in 2009, and the Cincinnati Bengals had to pay Utecht the rest of his salary after the franchise cut him.
Utecht was on injured reserve after his concussion, but his grievance case against the team argued he should have undergone more rigorous testing to assess his injury status before his release, according to a ThinkProgress article.
“The important thing is it is a decision for all players,” Utecht told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “It gives a standard that teams have to fulfill and for anyone that suffers a brain injury and a standard to be rehabilitated. That’s something we have been fighting for our players for three to four years now.”
More than 4,500 former players are suing the NFL in a multidistrict litigation (MDL), alleging the League deliberately hid the long-term effects of football concussions. “The NFL’s response to the issue of brain injuries … has been, until very recently, a concerted effort of deception and denial,” according to the master complaint in the NFL concussion lawsuits. “The NFL actively tried to and did conceal the extent of the concussion and brain trauma problem, the risk to the Plaintiffs, and the risks to anyone else who played football.”