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Jim McMahon says NFL lied to players about brain injuries


Former NFL quarterback Jim McMahon is one of the most famous among the hundreds of former players suing the NFL over brain injuries they say the suffered on the football field. And he says his anger over the issue comes from what he sees as the NFL concealing information about concussions.

“We knew what was going on with pretty much every other part of the body,” McMahon said on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “We knew there was going to be a chance for injury. But we didn’t know about the head trauma. And they did, and that’s the whole reason for this lawsuit. . . . They knew about it and they didn’t tell us. That’s like looking in your face and lying to you. Flat-out lying.”

The NFL says player safety has always been a top priority and denies that the league ever lied or failed to disclose information about brain injuries. But McMahon says the league never cared about concussions and that trainers weren’t helpful if players suffered brain injuries. ESPN pointed to a Chicago Tribune article during McMahon’s time in Chicago in which a Bears trainer was quoted as saying that McMahon had suffered a concussion in the first half of a game against the Lions, but “it cleared by halftime.”

“That’s a typical response, ‘It cleared by halftime,’” McMahon said. “You got a headache? Here’s an aspirin.”

McMahon now says his brain doesn’t work well.

“Short term memory is not good,” McMahon said. “I won’t remember a hell of a lot about this interview in 10 minutes.”

McMahon says he’s doing fine financially and that his lawsuit isn’t about money. What it is about is forcing the NFL to take brain injuries more seriously which, McMahon hopes, will result in the next generation of players being healthier in retirement than he is.