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July 20th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Former NFL players: League concealed concussion risks

Los Angeles (CNN) - Seventy-five former professional football players are suing the National Football League, saying the league knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions on players' brains but concealed the information from players, coaches, trainers and others until June 2010.

The players "did not know the long-term effects of concussions" and relied on the NFL to protect them, the suit says.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant the football equipment maker Riddell Inc., which has been the official NFL helmet brand since 1989.

"For decades, defendants have known that multiple blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including memory loss, dementia, depression and (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and its related symptoms," says the 86-page lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday.

"This action arises from the defendants' failure to warn and protect NFL players such as plaintiffs against the long-term brain injury risks associated with football-related concussions. This action arises because the NFL defendants committed negligence by failing to exercise its duty to enact league-wide guidelines and mandatory rules regulating post-concussion medical treatment and return-to-play standards for players who suffer a concussion and/or multiple concussions."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday night that the league had not seen a copy of the suit but would "vigorously contest any claims of this kind."

Riddell declined to comment, issuing a statement saying only, "We have not yet review(ed) the complaint, but it is our policy to not comment on pending litigation."

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