Ep. 7: ‘I’m gonna take on the National Football League’
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In late 2016, the Supreme Court rejected challenges to the settlement of a landmark lawsuit against the National Football League. That cleared the last hurdle to a billion-dollar agreement — former players could finally be compensated for brain ailments they suffered playing professional football.
While the lawsuit and settlement rocked the sports world, the way it all started was almost unbelievable. It involved an unlikely friendship between two men from vastly different backgrounds.
One was Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian-born forensic pathologist who had discovered CTE in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Mike Webster. The other was Jason Luckasevic, a lawyer who grew up worshiping his heroes in black and gold.
During a meeting in 2006, Omalu told Luckasevic that the NFL was unhappy with his work. They were coming after him, trying to discredit him and ruin his career.
“And I said ‘well do something about it, look into it, figure it out, fight back,’” Luckasevic says. “And he said ‘well you’re a good lawyer you figure it out.’”
And so, in an effort to defend his friend and help players who had been used and discarded by the NFL, Luckasevic went to work.
This is his story:
Episode 7 music credits:
(All music edited for time purposes)
— “The NFL Concussion Lawsuit from the Eyes of the Pittsburgh Lawyer who Originated the Case” (Jurist.org) Read
— “The NFL Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation” (U.S. District Court, E.D., Pennsylvania) Read