With all due respect to Wes Welker's unfortunate injury in the Titans game just over a week ago, concussions are again in the news. On December 10th, former Broncos quarterback Craig Morton filed suit against the NFL citing failure to protect players from concussive injury. Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and Bob Stein LLC, the law firm representing Morton and hundreds of other quoted Morton in their press release.
"I wanted to step forward not only for myself, but to make sure that no former players are left out in the cold if the NFL follows through on its announced plans to propose a settlement relating to brain injuries. I wanted to let former players know that if a fair deal for all players isn't put on the table, I'm willing to fight with whoever will join us."
Morton's lawsuit claims that NFL Films is equally culpable with regard the head injuries that he sustained.
The complaint alleges that defendant NFL and its promotional arm, NFL Films, glorify the brutality and ferocity of NFL football, propagating the myth that receiving big hits is a badge of courage without serious health impacts. The complaint details a number of NFL Films productions which prominently feature big hits and include players dismissing the risks of concussions.
It's important to note that this law firm is also representing players who are involved in the Dryer v. NFL lawsuit wherein former players sued for control of their likeness rights in across various NFL media. Morton's lawsuit pertains to concussive injury and not likeness rights and doesn't appear to be part of this lawsuit.
Morton passed for more than 27,000 yards, and 183 touchdowns, but also was sacked 373 times over his nearly two decades in the NFL. He played in an era before the 'victory formation' wherein if a team wanted to ice the game by running out the clock, the quarterback had to take the snap and give himself up at the bottom of a massive dogpile. There were no kneel downs.
Morton quarterbacked the Broncos to their first Super Bowl during the 1977 season. During the playoffs, he struggled with injuries and was secretly hospitalized in the days leading up to the AFC Championship game. What most fans don't know is that Morton didn't finish Super Bowl XII at quarterback, Norris Weese did. In the third quarter of that game, Morton was sacked for a 9-yard loss. Two plays later, he was pulled. Granted, Morton had been largely ineffective most of the game and had a bum hip, but it begs the question... Did Morton get concussed in the Super Bowl? Weese was sent out onto the field mid-series after an incomplete pass to RB Rob Lytle. Makes one wonder if it was more injury related than Coach Red Miller let on at the time.
Morton joins 287 other Broncos in their pursuit of compensatory and punitive damages for injuries suffered, as well as ongoing medical monitoring to protect him in the event of future medical issues. Notable broncos with pending concussion lawsuits are Ring-of-Famers, Rich Jackson, Floyd Little, Dennis Smith, Randy Gradishar, Karl Mecklenburg, and Tom Nalen. Check out this database the Washington Times put together to track concussion lawsuits against the NFL for information regarding the plaintiffs in these suits.