Five former KC Chiefs players file lawsuit against Chiefs over concussions

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Five former Kansas City Chiefs team members who played defensive positions  in the 80s and 90s, have filed a lawsuit against the Kansas City Chiefs organization, their attorney announced on Tuesday.

The former Chiefs claim they suffer from post-concussion syndrome and latent brain disease, which they say was directly caused by the Chiefs' 'wrongful conduct', according to the lawsuit.

The defendants claim the Chiefs marginalized the risks of brain injuries and regularly referred to concussions as 'getting your bell rung' or a 'ding'.

The lawsuit says the Chiefs knew or should have known of the "devastating nature and long-term effects of concussive and sub-concussive injuries long before Plaintiffs were exposed to repetitive brain trauma."

The former Chiefs players named in the lawsuit include:

  • Alexander Louis Cooper, Chiefs linebacker 1985-1991
  • Leonard Griffin, Chiefs defensive end 1986- 1993
  • Christopher Martin, Chiefs linebacker 1988-1993 (along with his wife)
  • Joseph Phillips, Chiefs defensive tackle 1992-1993
  • Kevin Porter, Chiefs defensive back 1988-1993


“Every time that I would get a head injury I would stay in or come to the sideline and get smelling salts and come back in,” Chris Martin said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “You can’t treat us like we’re going to leave the game and that’s the end of it. I mean we take football to the grave. It’s just a shame that Junior Seau killed himself and let’s not let his death go overlooked,” he said.

The defendants say they now suffer from severe and persistent headaches, post-concussion syndrome, depression, mood swings, explosivity, suicidal ideations, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, but has been tied to Parkinson's Disease and dementia.

FOX 4's Rob Low asked Chris Martin if he has a son. When Martin said he did, Low asked him if his son plays football.  Martin said he did, but when asked how he felt about the risks to his son, Martin said he'd rather not comment on that.

The lawsuit alleges that the Chiefs knew or should have known as early as 1966 that concussions would lead to impairment, according to the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The defendants claim the Chiefs organization was both actively and passively negligent by failing to exercise the standard of care and skill it was 'obligated to exercise'.

The lawsuit cites several studies and claims the Chiefs should have known about them, including:

A 1928 study by pathologist Harrison Martland that described repetitive head trauma and degenerative brain disease as the 'punch drunk syndrome.'

A 1934 study by Dr. Harry Parker which described neurological degeneration in boxers with a high volume of brain trauma incidents.

A 1937 meeting of the American Football Coaches Association, in which they reportedly acknowledged a 'keen awareness' of the serious risks of concussions.

To read more studies cited in the lawsuit or to read the lawsuit in its entirety, click here.

The lawsuit asks for a judgment of a minimum of $15,000 for actual damages, punitive damages and aggravating circumstances.

Cooper, Griffin, Martin, Phillips, and Porter are represented by the Humphrey, Farrington & McClain law firm.

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  • Christopher Crowder

    I thought the settlement earlier this year was supposed to address these issues? If it only covered the NFL itself, leaving all the individual teams still exposed to liability, this could be an interesting few months coming up.

  • Janet

    It is sad that we live in a world of get rich quick litigations. All football players know the risks of concussions & injury going back to Pop Warner little league. They were getting paid to do a job risks included. So if a guy gets paralyzed, do they sew the team because we all know there is that possibility every time you step on the field! There is risk in all jobs. Don’t take the job if you’re worried about injury. So dissappointed in these players.

  • slm

    Race car drivers assume the risk every time they race. They dress in all the protective gear to protect them from injury but yet it is not ever enough, and they still race. Football players wear protective gear as well. YOU HAVE ASSUMED THE RISK!!!

  • Scott

    The players before 1993 received nothing. The players union won’t do a thing for the older guys, no benefits, no healthcare. The older guys didn’t make the millions that these new guys make now. They made around $15,000 to $20,000 a year. A lot of these fellers had to work a real job in the off season. When my Uncle was the plant manager at the Pepsi bottler plant on Manchester in the 60’s, he had a couple of the Chiefs players working for there.

  • G

    i was a pitcher all through high school and college, i think i’ll sue my HS and college because my shoulder is all f***ed up now…oh and my little league coach who first put me on the mound when I was 9.