Cedric - Volume 1 - High-Risk Class: 01

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Defendant Green Bay Packers, Inc. Defendant Houston Holdings LP "Texans" is engaged in interstate commerce in the 27 business of, among other things, promoting, operating, and regulating the NFL. Defendant Indianapolis Colts, Inc. Defendant Miami Dolphins, Ltd. Defendant The Oakland Raiders, LLP, individually and as successor in interest to the 25 Los Angeles Raiders "Raiders" , is engaged in interstate commerce in the business of, among other 26 things, promoting, operating, and regulating the NFL and is a resident of this district.

Louis Rams "Rams" , is engaged in interstate commerce in the business of, among other 7 8 things, promoting, operating, and regulating the NFL. Defendant Forty Niners Football Company "49ers" is engaged in interstate 12 commerce in the business of, among other things, promoting, operating, and regulating the NFL and 13 is a resident of this district.

Defendant Buccaneers LP "Buccaneers" is engaged in interstate commerce in the 18 business of, among other things, promoting, operating, and regulating the NFL. Defendant Tennessee Football, Inc. Defendant Pro-Football, Inc. This matter has been assigned to the San Francisco Division. Labor Relations Between the Clubs and Players. Clubs playing American professional football first organized themselves as a league 6 in , calling the organization the American Professional Football Association.

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The Clubs 7 renamed the league the National Football League in and have conducted joint activities under 8 that name until the present day. From until , players had no bargaining rights and were subject to unilateral 10 11 rules imposed jointly by the Clubs. No collective bargaining agreement "CBA" was in existence 12 for the first 45 seasons of professional football.

The National Football League Players Association 13 "NFLPA" , even though it had been in existence since , was not recognized as a union or the 14 sole and exclusive bargaining representative for the Clubs' players until A second CBA between the Clubs and players 16 was signed in In ruling for the players, the appeals court 21 affirmed the District Court's holding that the restrictions on player movement contained in the 22 and CBAs were not the product of bona fide arm's-length bargaining.

In , after the Mackey decision, the Clubs and players resolved their legal 26 27 differences in part through a new CBA, the first such agreement that was the product of good faith, 28 bona fide arm's-length bargaining. From that date until present, every football season has been played pursuant to a CBA.

The football seasons from through , through and through 6 were not subject to any CBA. The seasons from through were subject to CBAs that 7 8 were not the product of bona fide, arm's-length bargaining. Therefore, only the through the 9 and through the seasons were governed by valid CBAs. No CBA has addressed, let alone regulated, the administration or dispensation of 11 Medications.

Not one of the 13 hundreds of NFL-selected pages of CBAs going back to mention[s] the Medications or 14 15 protocols for their provision. On information and belief, the Clubs have provided doctors for their players continuously 20 since the inception of the NFL.

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The Clubs provided doctors and trainers for the through , through 22 23 , and through seasons during which time no CBA was in effect. The Clubs provided 24 doctors and trainers for the through seasons during which the CBAs in effect were not the 25 product of bona fide, arm's-length bargaining. Since their inception, the Clubs have recognized that 26 they maintain a hazardous workplace.

Its mission is "to provide excellence in the 3 medical and surgical care of the athletes in the NFL and to provide direction and support for the 4 athletic trainers in charge of the care of these athletes. It has members, including all physicians from all 32 Clubs. Although one would think that teams truly competing against each other would want 7 8 to maintain a propriety interest in their medical treatments, the opposite is the case with the NFL. The Combine continues to this day and at each annual event, doctors from all 32 Clubs 12 meet to discuss issues common to the member Clubs.

According to the Physicians Society, its goals are "to constantly work toward 14 15 improving the care of the professional football players and prevention and treatment of injuries. On information and belief, the Clubs have provided trainers continuously since the 19 early years of the NFL.

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The Clubs have recognized the appeal of violence associated with football since the 13 inception of the sport. But the Clubs have also recognized that, to give the public the best product 14 possible, marquee players need to play, even if they are injured and in pain.

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  • But that would cut into the Clubs' profit margins. Instead, the Clubs have resolved this inherent conflict in favor of profit over safety 20 with more games, less rest e. Everyone's job and salary depend on this simple fact. The return to 24 play practice or policy was based on four cornerstone concepts: profit, media, non-guaranteed 25 contracts, and drugs. As professional football took off, these bedrock concepts would become the 26 27 driving force behind every business decision made by the Clubs.

    While professional football has been a popular spectator sport since its inception, with 2 the widespread availability of television in the 's, the Clubs realized that the opportunity for 3 profits would greatly increase as income would no longer be dependent solely on attendance at the 4 games. As the television networks began competing for the rights to televise games, the Clubs 5 sought to further capitalize on the public's demand for the violence of the sport. But the ever- 6 escalating profitability of the Clubs was dependent on keeping the players on the field, even when 7 8 games and practices spawned increasing numbers of injuries as the result of bigger, stronger players 9 having less time between games to recover.

    The health interests of the players were increasingly 10 subordinated and forgotten as the Clubs evolved into multi-billion dollar businesses. The Clubs also manipulated the media to increase revenue and reinforce the return to 12 play practice or policy. NFL Films highlighted the violence of the game and the "toughness" of its 14 15 players. Dramatic collisions between players were highlighted in slow motion.

    Players who 16 returned to the game with severe injuries were lauded as courageous heroes. These same themes 17 were repeated by the broadcast networks.

    The return to play practice or policy became an accepted fact of 20 doing business by the Clubs as profits soared. One need only examine the season to understand the importance of keeping the 22 23 best players out on the field at all costs. That year, the players went on strike and the Clubs played a 24 number of regular season games with so-called "replacement players. The networks agreed to continue broadcasting them only when 26 the Clubs agreed to reduce prices to enable the networks to recoup the losses. On information and belief, this experience reinforced to the Clubs the 2 importance of having "star" NFL players on the field.

    In its thirst for constantly-growing revenue, Defendants expanded from 24 to 32 9 Clubs, added two more regular season games and are looking to add two more , expanded the 10 number of Clubs participating in post-season play, and scheduled more games during the week 11 particularly on Thursday nights , leaving players with less recovery time and greater chances for 12 new injuries or worsening of existing injuries.

    Indeed, professional football is such an omnipresent force, with off-season camps 14 15 starting in April, the draft in May, practices and pre-season games through August, the regular 16 season through December, and post-season often carrying over into February, that an entire TV 17 channel, the NFL Network, devotes all day, every day to the game. During this same time, players have gotten bigger and stronger. Mel Kiper, one of 19 ESPN's senior football analysts, noted that in , offensive lineman were on average 24 percent 20 heavier than they were in and an average of 31 percent stronger than they were in In the 21 s, the Colts' Hall of Fame defensive tackle Art Donovan was considered a giant at pounds.

    More games, longer seasons, shorter recovery between games, plus bigger and 26 stronger players, equals more frequent and debilitating injuries. In a survey by the Washington Post, nearly nine out of 10 former players reported 4 playing while hurt. Fifty-six percent said they did this "frequently. From the beginnings of 7 8 professional football to the present day, the Clubs have created a coercive economic environment in 9 which all players have non-guaranteed contracts.

    The current standard player contract states that the 10 player's salary is game to game and a player's contract can be terminated for lack of skill at any time 11 referred to as being "cut". Players are constantly reminded by general managers, coaches and the 12 media of the competitive nature of the game and the importance of playing. If a player is injured, 13 coaches advise him to return to play as soon as possible to prevent a replacement from taking his 14 15 spot on a Club.

    This financial reality is 18 reinforced by the Club-created image of the professional football player as heroic warrior. From the outset, the means by which the Clubs facilitated the return to play practice 20 or policy was the widespread availability of the Medications. Club doctors and trainers have 21 distributed these controlled substances and prescription medications with little to no regard for the 22 23 law or the players' health. Club doctors and trainers know that, if players are given adequate rest 24 and do not return to the game, the doctor or trainer will be replaced.

    As the position of Club doctor 25 and trainer have become increasingly lucrative, the pressures on the medical personnel to return 26 players to the field have only increased. That culture has so permeated the NFL that today, it is almost unshakeable. Although 4 there are too many incidents of such behavior to list, two highly publicized, recent incidents make 5 the point. In a playoff game, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III re-injured 6 his knee severely in the first quarter but still returned to the game despite a clear inability to run or 7 8 even walk normally.

    He tore a ligament in his knee during the fourth quarter and was finally 9 removed from the game.

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    And in a game against the Washington Redskins on October 27, , 10 Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo experienced a hard tackle that resulted in two vertebrae in 11 his back being chipped and fractured. Romo returned to the game after taking a painkilling 12 injection. He then missed the next week's game. Such injuries take six to eight weeks to heal.

    Cowboys' 16 owner Jerry Jones stated "[Romo's] going on the trip to London and logic tells you that we wouldn't 17 have him make that trip to London and back if we didn't think he was going to play. On information and 19 belief, Romo would have been unable to play through such acute pain without frequent use of 20 painkilling pills and injections.

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    The Clubs maintain the return to play practice or policy by ensuring that players are 22 23 not told of the health risks associated with taking Medications. Players are not informed of the long- 24 term health effects of taking controlled substances and prescription medications in the amounts given 25 to them by the Clubs. Players are not counseled that inadequate rest will result in permanent harm to 26 joints and muscles. Players are frequently not told the name of the Medication they are being given.

    Manifestations of the Return to Play Practice or Policy. People trust doctors. Professional football players are no different.