Family of college fullback who died from head injuries files suit

The recent $765 million lawsuit settlement between the NFL and former pro football players involving concussions certainly did not put an end to litigation over football injuries and deaths in California and nationwide. Recently, the family of a Maryland college football player filed a $1 million wrongful death suit. The player collapsed following days of tough practices and subsequently died.

According to the young man’s parents and sister who brought the suit, the 22-year-old fullback at Maryland’s Frostburg State University had participated in 13 hours of full-contact drills over several days in August 2011. They say that during these preseason practice drills, he and the other fullbacks were told to charge into halfbacks head first.

The family says that despite his helmet, the young man began bleeding from his forehead. They say the coaches had the wound bandaged up and told him to continue playing. When he complained about not feeling well, they say he was mocked, called names, and ordered back on the field without being checked for a concussion.

After several days of these brutal practices and hits, the lawsuit contends that the fullback complained of a headache, left the field, collapsed, and fell into a coma. He never recovered. The young man, who was carrying a double major in history and political science and dreamed of becoming a CIA agent, died six days later from a concussion.

The family is suing the head coach and other team officials, as well as the NCAA and the company that manufactures the team’s helmets, Kranos Corporation. They say the suit is not about money, but about getting justice for their son and brother, and to help prevent something like this from happening to other college players.

Serious and even deadly injuries occur at all levels of football. In some ways, college players may be in the most danger. High school players live at home, so they have family around them who may spot signs of a problem. Pro football players are more likely to have physicians and trainers around during practice. College players may be more easily affected by taunts about being weak than pro players, and continue playing when they should not. Further, because they are usually living away from home, they may not have anyone around who would notice symptoms of a serious head injury and intervene to get them possibly life-saving medical care.

Source: ABC News, “Family of Dead College Football Player Says Coaches ‘Left Him There to Die’” Linzie Janis, Sep. 02, 2013