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Gale Sayers' lawyers to drop concussion suit against NFL

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - A lawyer for pro football Hall of Famer Gale Sayers said on Saturday he would drop a federal lawsuit filed on the former player's behalf that accuses the National Football League of failing to warn him about and protect him against head injuries.

Attorney John Winters told Reuters he would voluntarily withdraw the lawsuit, filed on Friday in United States District Court in Chicago, after hearing from the Sayers' family that the Chicago Bears great no longer wanted to pursue the matter.

Attempts by Reuters to get comment from Sayers were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit came three weeks after the league agreed to pay $765 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of former players, many suffering from dementia and health problems, who accused the league of hiding the dangers of brain injuries.

Winters said Sayers, 70, contacted him earlier in the week, wanting to know about the concussion lawsuit against the NFL.

"After that conversation, he instructed me to file a lawsuit and then today I found out through family members he no longer wants to pursue it," Winters told Reuters on Saturday.

The lawsuit also accused helmet maker Riddell of failing to warn him of the risks of concussions, and of not disclosing that the helmets would not prevent concussions.

Sayers, known as the Kansas Comet, played running back for Chicago from 1965 to 1972, when he retired in the preseason. Sayers led the league twice in rushing and was a four-time Pro Bowler during his career that was cut short by knee injuries.

Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

In 1970, he published a memoir, "I am Third," describing his rise to football glory and his friendship with Chicago Bears teammate Brian Piccolo, who died of cancer. The autobiography was the basis for the 1971 film "Brian's Song."

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Karen Brooks and Peter Cooney)

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