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Ex-players reply to NFL's motion to dismiss cases

Ex-players reply to NFL's motion to dismiss cases

Arguing that ``football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports,'' lawyers for thousands of former NFL players asked a judge to reject the league's bid to dismiss their lawsuits about concussions.

In a brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the players dispute the league's framing of the cases as a labor issue that should be governed by the sport's collective bargaining agreements instead of the legal system.

Among the players' arguments: Relevant CBAs did not address long-term brain injuries, the NFL committed fraud by concealing risks of repeated head trauma, and the league has a common-law duty to protect players.

``The NFL knew that players were exposed to risks of severe neurological injuries, yet did nothing to prevent them,'' the brief says, adding that the league ``failed to warn players about the dangers of concussive and sub-concussive impacts,'' did not advocate preventative rule changes and did not ``implement equipment standards adapted for head trauma.''

The league filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuits in August and now will have the chance to respond to the players' reply. The NFL repeatedly has stated publicly it did not intentionally mislead players and has tried to better protect their health.

More than 100 concussion lawsuits against the NFL have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody. Unless Brody agrees to dismiss them, or an umbrella settlement is reached, she probably would decide what evidence can be used at trial, whether a class can be certified for medical monitoring and other pretrial issues. The cases might then return to their home districts for trial.

In its motion two months ago, the NFL argued that the CBAs cover safety and health rules - while delegating to individual teams and their doctors the decisions about players' conditions and when they should return to play. The league also said the former players' suits lack specific proof that medical links between concussions and brain disease were concealed.

The players' response Wednesday says ``a party cannot shirk its own duty by pointing to the duties of others'' and that the ``NFL deceived club doctors (as well as players) by insisting repeatedly that head trauma carried little long-term risk for football players.''

Wednesday's brief argues that the NFL ``orchestrated a disinformation campaign'' and says: ``On the NFL's watch, football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports.''

According to an Associated Press analysis, a total of more than 3,500 former players - including at least 26 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame - have sued the NFL, saying not enough was done to inform them about the dangers of concussions in the past, and not enough is being done today to take care of them. The complete number of plaintiffs in those cases tops 5,000, counting spouses and other relatives or representatives.

The lead plaintiff in one of the earliest concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL last year, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, committed suicide in April at age 62. An autopsy found he had the degenerative brain disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His widow remains a plaintiff.

Other players have told the AP they returned to play after hits that left them with concussions and regularly were given painkillers by team doctors before games.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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PHOTOS: Alex Smith makes an appearance during the Redskins' third day of OTAs

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PHOTOS: Alex Smith makes an appearance during the Redskins' third day of OTAs

Considering how serious that November leg injury was and how difficult the subsequent surgeries were, any time you see Alex Smith out, about and smiling, it's encouraging.

On Thursday, the Redskins posted a couple of pictures of Smith helping out at the team's third day of OTAs. The QB was photographed hanging out with coaches and even tossing a football:

You can't tell in the pictures whether Smith is still wearing the external fixator on his right leg, but regardless of whether he is or not, it's still great to see him in Ashburn around the organization. 

It remains unclear what kind of role Smith will have with the 'Skins in 2019. However, if he's willing, he'd be an ideal mentor for Dwayne Haskins and overall a positive influence on the entire roster, seeing as many players don't hesitate to praise the leadership he displayed in 2018.

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Gilbert Arenas doesn't like bench mobs, gives very on-brand reason

Gilbert Arenas doesn't like bench mobs, gives very on-brand reason

Gilbert Arenas was an attention-grabbing, electric player on the court. That's equally true off it, where Agent Zero has made a name for himself saying outrageous things and playing the jester. 

Arenas was back at it with another controversial take on his No Chill podcast this week. This time, he took aim at bench mobs.

"[The] only thing that irritates the s--- out of me, is when someone scores and they're like shooting the arrows and they havin' this big ole hype party on the bench ... f--- that ... I want your position. I don't want you to do good."

Bench celebrations have to be some of the most fun, light-hearted and beloved parts of an NBA game. Just look at this. 

Sure, players are drawing attention to themselves by cheering on their teammates, but who begrudges guys for rooting for their own team's success?

Arenas, apparently.

It might sound odd that a guy like Gil couldn't relate to goofy antics. Take a closer look at his history, though, and it makes perfect sense. 

Arenas was one of the most ball-dominant guards in the NBA at a time when Kobe Bryant dominated. That's saying something.

Just compare him versus Bradley Beal, for example. 

Arenas averaged 19 or more shots per game in four of his eight seasons with the Wizards. Beal, by contrast, has only done that once.

Arenas also logged 39 minutes per game while playing for Washington. Even last season when Beal's playing time was a concern, he played 37 minutes a night. 

Of course Arenas can't relate to sitting back and watching his teammates take his minutes or his shots. He had no experience doing either of those things.

There's also the indisputable fact that Agent Zero loves to stir up controversy. If the general consensus is one thing, Arenas gets attention by saying the other. 

Look no further than a few weeks ago. When most NBA players and fans were excited about Vince Carter deciding to try to play another year, Arenas came out opposed to the idea on his podcast.

He said Carter should retire to make room for younger players to prove themselves in the league. 

At this rate, if Arenas uses next week's podcast space to argue that Zion Williamson should go back to Duke, no one should be surprised. 

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