Ex-NFL star Deion Sanders says pro football is a safe sport, and that the thousands of former players suing the league over concussion-related brain damage are lying opportunists seeking a payout. In a series of biting Twitter comments, Deion took issue with the massive class action pending against the NFL for alleged football-related brain damage.
"There are many players that have experienced concussions, including myself, that are and aren't affected today," Sanders tweeted. "Let's be honest about it and not do the popular thing and chase money and lawsuits because we hear it may result in a payday. Lying affects many that are truthful."
Deion, who played in the NFL from 1989 to 2005, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. Sanders, 45, insists football is perfectly safe, and is upset that some former players may be hopping on the lawsuit bandwagon to make money. In the suit, the NFL is accused of deliberately concealing evidence of the link between football-related head trauma and long-term brain damage.
The recent high-profile suicides of former NFL stars Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling has shone a spotlight on a degenerative brain condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which has been diagnosed in more than 30 former NFL stars so far. Patients with CTE often suffer from impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, dementia and suicidal tendencies.
In June 2012, over 4,000 former NFL players filed a federal lawsuit alleging the NFL was aware of the link between football-related head injuries and long-term neurological damage but repeatedly denied there was a connection.
“The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result,” the complaint alleged.
Meanwhile, Sanders insists football is safe, and dismisses the plaintiffs' allegations. "The game is a safe game, the equipment is better," said Sanders. "I don't buy all these guys coming back with these concussions. I'm not buying all that.
"Half these guys are trying to make money off the deal. That's really how it is. I wish they'd be honest and tell the truth because it's keeping kids away from our game."