ALERT: NFL Slammed on Eve of Super Bowl

Roger Goodell

( – With the Super Bowl just days away, the National Football League has been slammed with a lawsuit brought by retired players.

Based on reporting by The Washington Post, we know that ten retired NFL players, including former star running back Willis McGahee, have sued the NFL benefits plan, its board of trustees, and Commissioner Roger Goodell in federal court, accusing them of denying disability claims through “erroneous and arbitrary benefits denials, bad faith contract misinterpretations, and other unscrupulous tactics.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and seeks class-action status on behalf of thousands of former players, accuses the NFL plan of steering players towards financially biased doctors, who at high rates fail to find players disabled, and ignoring federal law when reviewing appeals of denied disability claims.

The suit also claims that the plan’s board and lawyers have displayed a pattern of inconsistent interpretations of their own rules to deny disability claims.

According to the lawsuit, the NFL plan, jointly managed and funded by the league and the NFL Players Association, has a pattern of suppressing disability costs and lying to players by referring to its doctors as “neutral physicians.”

The lawsuit claims to have records and data that show that the plan doctors who earn the most money are the least likely to find players disabled. The suit also claims that over a time frame in 2015 and 2016, doctors who earned more than $137,000 found players disabled at a rate of 0.5%, while doctors earning between $52,000 and $60,000 found players disabled at a rate of 27%.

Former defensive back for the New York Jets, Eric Smith, who is one of the named plaintiffs, stated in a news release that the allegations about the league’s disability plan are “yet another example of the NFL’s betrayal of its players once we are no longer on the field and making them money.”

The suit is led by Christopher Seeger, who was also a part of several major class-action cases, including the 2012 case against the NFL alleging the league failed to protect players from the dangers of concussions. The settlement for that case has paid out more than $1 billion to NFL retirees suffering from dementia and other brain diseases linked to repetitive head trauma.

The lawsuit was filed the day after a Washington Post investigation found that the NFL’s disability plan had displayed a pattern of aggressively fighting to deny disability claims and ignoring legal requirements to review cases fairly. The NFL disputed the findings of the investigation. It asserted that the plan had never “improperly decided” a disability claim, despite rulings by judges in six lawsuits that found the plan wrongly denied claims.

Former players and their lawyers have expressed outrage over the NFL’s stance, with one lawyer stating, “When a federal judge tells you multiple times you’ve broken the law, your response should be to change your ways and follow the law. Attacking the courts instead shows just how little the plan has learned…and how lightly they take their duties to NFL retirees.”

The suit comes three days before the Super Bowl, which caps a season that has seen the NFL facing increased criticism over its treatment of retired players.