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June 29, 2012 @ 7:44 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Sears Lawsuit Targets The Buccaneers

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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Arron Sears mysterious descent into a world of mental trouble has been puzzling to most since he was released in 2010. Now, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the family of Sears has filed a lawsuit claiming his issues arose from his time playing in the NFL. Former Bucs Jimmie Giles and Donald Smith have also joined the lawsuit targeting the Bucs.
The mysterious circumstances surrounding the end of former Buccaneers guard Arron Sears career with the Buccaneers remains puzzling. But a report in the Tampa Bay Times, in which Sears has filed a lawsuit against the team claiming his career ended because of neurological problems related to head trauma, reveals how deep the issues were leading to Sears’ problems that began after the 2008 season.

The parents of Sears, Calvin and Henrietta Woods, filed the lawsuit on their son's behalf and were joined as plaintiffs by former Bucs tight end Jimmie Giles, who is a member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor, and former running back Donald Smith. In the lawsuit it is alleged the Bucs, the NFL, helmet manufacturer Riddell and other teams that employed them were negligent and withheld information related to the affects of concussions and head injuries. The lawsuit seeks an unspecified monetary award and punitive damages.

According to the Times, Sears, 27, is known to have sustained at least one concussion during his final season, 2008. Teammates and coaches first noticed something different about Sears during offseason workouts in the spring of 2009. They described him as distant. Eventually, the problem worsened, and Sears stopped communicating. Sears returned home to Alabama while the team helped his family try to pinpoint the source, but no diagnosis was disclosed. The Bucs released him in 2010 after he returned to One Buccaneer Place to rejoin the team for a brief spell for conditioning work, but he did not return to practice or games.

The lawsuit, reported by the Times, also said Sears, who left the club for the first time in the 2009 offseason, is experiencing "various neurological conditions … related to head trauma.

"Sears has almost total loss of function, is unable to care for himself and cannot take (care) of his day-to-day activities. Further, Arron Sears has extreme displays of temper and anger with the appurtenant risk of causing harm to himself and others."

The suit also says Sears, "sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and concussions on multiple occasions while playing professional football."

While there are currently 93 current concussion-related lawsuits pending against the NFL, the prior suits named the NFL as a primary defendant. The one filed by the family of Sears, and by Giles and Smith are believed to be the first one targeting  specific teams like the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers declined to comment, instead deferring to the league office in New York.

"The NFL and its clubs have long made player safety a priority and continues to do so," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email. "Any allegation that the NFL or its clubs intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."



Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2012 07:49
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  • avatar

    The problem as I see it is that they know concussions cause these problems, pro football causes concussions, pro football has deep pockets and the pharmaceutical industry treats only symptoms. Big Pharma has strong ties to football and Congress. To actually cure the problem, would bring down the whole medical industry and the alligned educational system that produces these pill doctors. The way to arrest this problem is with hemp which is currently a banned substance in the NFL although legal in 17 states. The cure for the problem is Human Growth Hormone which recently was banned by the NFL. Curious timing? A curious note is that the corrupt FDA wrote a law that all diseases and ailments could only be treated with pharmaceutical drugs under penalty of fines and imprisonment. Some how I thought only Congress could write law. Actually the drug companies write the laws and then they bribe someone to implement them. See Obamacare.
  • avatar

    I asked my daughter - a neuro scientist - to explain this concussion thing in layman terms. You may be interested in her answer: so neurons are nerve cells - they are the information carrying cells in the nervous system. The cell bodies make up the 'grey matter' of the brain, and the axons (the long legs that link one neuron to the next) make up the white matter. Dead neurons do not regenerate. The only region in the brain where they have found new cells to grow in adulthood (and only sometimes) is around the hippocampus. So in a head injury you have various kinds of damage: The cells where the brain bashes into the skull can be damaged and die - you get focal lesions (coup and contrecoup - ie the brain hits against one bit and then ricochets and hits against an opposite bit of the skull) This can cause bleeds - little (or sts not so little) blood vessels rupture also and this causes raised intracranial pressure and swelling which can damage more cells The brain being crashed about also causes axons to tear - this is called diffuse white matter damage or axonal shearing and its often responsible for the worst longterm damage (apart from death, coma, paralysis and focal deficits that can result from what I talked about above :). Links between different parts of the brain are damaged, so although most of cells may be intact, fucntionally the networks are not working. Most often this kind of damage happens in the deep front part of the brain - so the worst outcomes you see are executive/frontal - inability to regulate emotion, increased impulsivity, increased impulsive aggression, lack of insight, lack of ability to make sound decisions and plan sensibly, loss of social insight etd etc Any loss of consciousness indicates that the brain has been injured; obviously the longer the LOC the worse the injury If you want a visual of what happens to the brain in a head injury make a bowl of jello and let it half set, then jiggle the bowl - you'll get the picture :)
  • avatar


    I THINK THAT IF THEY WERE INJURED WHILE WITH THE BUCS THEN IF IT IS EQUIPMENT THAT CAUSE HEALTH ISSUSES BY ALL MEANS-THEY MUST GET MONEY.go bucs
  • avatar


    buc4life79: Second biggest problem with healthcare. Unnecessary tests and treatments to fend off malpractice lawsuits. Good luck with your career.
  • avatar

    Very Well stated closing remarks Scubog...I believe those closing lines of your last post sum up the entirety of this argument best. When we mention the termmoral obligation, it applies to us all because we are all human...and more than anything, our "progress" through our national history has led to great advancements in living for even those amoung us who can least afford them...but this is my bigger point..I am currently a college student, studying for my degree in healthcare administration and management. Several courses back, my final assingment was to identify a main problem in the functionality of our current healthcare system and how I would go about fixing that problem. I identified the following facts: That healthcare "professionals" of just 100 years ago were professionals by trade or example, where as the "professionals" of today's healthcare world are more of title than by example. Oh sure, their knowledge in almost every way is superior to the knowledge of those practicing medicine 100 years ago...but does anyone here know of a healthcare professional that would be willing to travel for days out into the country side to treat one of their patients at their own home?? Even to go as far as to stay with that patient in their own home if needed and even further, to be willing to accept nothing but home cooked meals and a roof over their head for the duration of their stay as their only form of payment if those were the circumstances?? The professionals of that time were people at heart who treated real people in need of their services because they cared for the people they treated...Today there are true "caring" professionals, but just to look at how our healthcare system is running today, from cost of services to doctor patient relationship, something big has been lost along the way..and it's the same thing that carries over into every aspect of our society, morality and personal responsibility. When those two aspects are present in the majority of the lives in a society, then moral obligations are always taken care of, because people actually act like and treat others like people.Not faceless numbers or statistics, not personal gain through possible legal ramifications, and not like dirt that can be swept under the rug...MJ said it best...it starts with the man in the mirror...hope we all can remember that and better yet, act on it. Great conversation to all.
  • avatar


    Horse: Didn't boxing just lose popularity because of that fighting where basically anything goes? Not exactly a step in the right direction. I'm sure you remember when boxing was on primetime with the Gillette Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Night Fights. Maybe we should let football become fake like wrestling. We could start a whole new league where every owner is an attorney. We could even have some of those old Batman TV show words splash across the Jumbotron after a big fake hit. "Bam", "Ouch" "Crunch" with sound effects to exaggerate the acting. Pinkstob: I agree that there are certainly times where a person is harmed by another persons' negligence; but there is no doubt that every NFL player is smart enough to know the risks. It's hard for me to blame solely the NFL because the warning label on the helmet isn't big enough. Like Horse said, what about their own union? I do think the NFL, current players and union should do more to help the retired and disabled former players. But due to their moral not legal obligation.
  • avatar


    Pinkstop, I hear what you are saying. We all come from various experiences and therefore form our opinions from those experiences so I respect what you are saying. I would like to add that the same blame should also be put on the Player Association and many others. The leadership of the Player Association sucks. Demarcus Smith is a very typical attorney using his law firm and the others law firms that he is either partnered with or gets some kind of referral fee and is spending multiple millions to represent the players. He is no bigger thief than what the Commissioner is and the Owners. Many of the players have proven that they need protection from themselves and both the NFL and Player Assiation have failed them. I would feel much better about suing if both parties would accept that responsibility for failure to protect the player. I would also add in as an equal share of that failure responsibility and sue the agents, and all football programs starting from Pop Warner to College football, all Coaches and all parents and relatives. Do you see where I am going with this? It's time to end football for human beings if this is that serious. Basically that has happened pretty much to Boxing. There is a lot less fans than there were in boxing after everyone has seen what it does to a boxer years later; Ali is a perfect example of brain damage by taking too many blows to the head.
  • avatar


    Based on the responses I can see this subject has touched a lot of nerves. This subject has also somehow been tied to some type of liberal master plan to jack up NFL ticket prices. I'm not going to get tied up into a back and forth posting with anyone on this because I think this subject is only loosely tied to the Bucs. I'll further expand on my earlier comment since I feel like some things may not have been clear enough and after that I'm not returning to this article. The first thing relates to the concussion themselves. It's fair to say that all the players knew they had a risk of a concussion by playing football. However, I don't think the NFL told the players that concussions have effects that may not manifest until after you retire and they last the rest of your life. Effects such as depression, memory loss and severe headaches that the players probably thought would go away eventually. It all comes down to whether the NFL made it clear to the players prior to 2009/2010 that concussions lead to these long term effects. If they did then fine, the players shouldn't be suing anyone. If the NFL didn't make this clear, they should get sued. The second thing relates to the money the players get paid. They are paid a lot of money because the NFL makes a lot of money and they are the reason the NFL makes a lot of money. The same as NBA and MLB players who are not subjected to concussions. In fact, NBA players make more on average. NFL players make the money they make because they deserve it based on their talent level, not because someone determined that's how much money they need to offset medical costs after they retire. In closing, if the NFL supplies players with a general handbook (code of conduct, helpline info, etc) that states in fine print the possible side effects of concussions, then the NFL is off the hook. If not, they should be held liable.
  • avatar

    After reading some of my fellow Pewter Report insider's opinions, I felt the need to opine with this follow up: I read a response that has very real legal ramifications and if it comes down to it, I hope the NFL uses.The fact that parents from pee-wee to high school and college football, are bringing their kids to football games and indoctrinating into the football world...aka VIOLENCE!!!! Sportsmanship and learning to not be a dirty player aside, rule #1 to football is being able to HIT and take a HIT...Without hitting aka violence, there is no football, so parents truly are responsible for indoctrinating their children to participate in sanctioned and socially allowed violence from very young ages...and the NFL these past 100 years now has actually only been responding to the publics' incessant need for commercialized competitive violence that families have been indoctrinating their offspring to respond to for countless decades now with their product; the NFL brand. bottom line people...Players enter the NFL with a full history of knowing how to hit others and commit violence..yet somehow this is the NFL's fault??? NO WAY AROUND THOSE HISTORICAL FACTS....so..Pinkstob and others..respond to this and PLEASE tell me how I'm wrong...PLEASE!!!! I'm so eager to hear your responses I literally "CAN'T WAIT" lol.....For the record..the very fact that we are having to discuss such things shows just how far we have lost our way as a nation...We should all be very worried.
  • avatar

    I am a fan of both football and rugby. Rugby, like football, is a violent contact game, but the players do not wear helmets, nor any pads. They get penalized for a tackle above the shoulders, when the referee notices. Rugby players do incur concussions, but nowhere near the number of football players. I think the presence of helmets adds to the danger of concussions because the players think their heads are protected and recklessly tackle without regard to the danger to their heads. If the NFL doesn't take some dramatic action they are likely to be sued out of existence. Football is already outrageously expensive so I don't think they have much room in raising prices to cover the cost of suits.
  • avatar


    I was going to comment , but Buc 4 life 79, Horse, pabucfan hit all the nails clearly on the head.
  • avatar


    We always know who has the culpability. It's whoever has the money. We all take risks in life and unless we're a complete moron, know the potential for putting ourselves in harms way. It doesn't make it someone else's fault when we didn't have enough common sense to read the countless disclaimers and heed the bold print warnings. The NFL and current millionaire players may have a moral responsibility to take care of those whose medical conditions are causing them to suffer after retirement; but I don't think they have a legal responsibility. I don't recall my bosses warning me that my job can cause me to be mentally stressed but they do pay me well enough that I'm willing to take the trade-off. Most of us know the ramifications (good and bad) of the career paths we choose. Sears surely knew that coming out of high school when he accepted his scholarship. Pity is one thing. Responsibility is another. I'm sure Sears will accept the donations from those of us who cheered him on and encouraged him to bang heads with the nearest defender, but I don't expect him to send me an invoice. Where does it end? If I drink milk past the expiration date can I sue Bossie?
  • avatar


    scubog, well put.
  • avatar


    I agree with pinkstob. Just because football players knew there were risks playing football doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to sue. No one fully understood the risks of concussions. Without fully disclosing all risk, the NFL is liable, even if they didn't know all the risks either (same thing with asbestos exposure/ steel mill lawsuits, or adverse affects from medication). Was it all the NFLs fault, probably not, but he did get worse after he suffered his concussion and so they are at least partly liable. My main problem is that people are usually overcompensated, but that's a different discussion.
  • avatar


    Horse: I agree with you 100%. It seems our society has made people think if their life isn't Utopia then it is someone's fault. With that being so commonplace; perhaps we Bucs fans can sue for the mental anguish caused by watching those last ten games in 2011. Brad Culpepper, if you're reading this and aren't too incapacitated from your own concussions; do we have a case?
  • avatar


    scubog, I so agree and you are so funny.
  • avatar


    Don't forget Chidi's rants - they sounded like premature dementia!
  • avatar


    Just curious how much liability do the Glazers have for Giles when he played under the Culverhouse regime? Are they responsible for any negligence committed under Culverhouse when they purchased the team? We all know it's not right, but what's right isn't always legal. If I was the Bucs, I'd argue there's enough resonable doubt that Sears could of gotten concussions in HS & college which contributed some or more to his current state.
  • avatar

    This is going to be sad and Ugly. I blame the Buccaneer organization for not revealing more about his injuries. We were kept in the dark completely and were told that it was a mental illness and just a sad development. If these allegations are true, oh man, This could be very very big.
  • avatar


    And for what reason do you think that the Bucs didn't think it was a mental illness? What are your facts for blame? It's easy to put out opinions, but don't say we were kept in the dark if you can't prove it.
  • avatar

    "Sears has almost total loss of function, is unable to care for himself and cannot take (care) of his day-to-day activities. Further, Arron Sears has extreme displays of temper and anger with the appurtenant risk of causing harm to himself and others." Ok..so on one hand, Sears and his co. are claiming that he has lost almost his entire ability to function on his own...but then follow that statement up with stating that he has extreme displays of anger and temper....Sorry but I smell BS...u cant have it both ways...either h cant care for himself which means he's basically a lifeless drooling hub of a person...or he's agile, mobile, and able to do sum damage...which if he can do physical damage, then he can do other physical things...like care for himself...Arron Sears was great, when he was motivated...but quite frankly I think he went the way of Jemarcus Russell and simply wasn't motivated to play anymore after a year or two...granted he never had Russels's 50mil+ reasons to not be motivated to play anymore...but LOTS of players never make it past their first 3 years in the league and are never heard from again...And to be fair...maybe Sears does have sum legitimate health problem from his VERY short stint in the NFL...but regardless of liberal attitudes that are looking to vilify the NFL with the mindset that they are somehow responsible for players injuries is as absurd as the Supreme Court decision that came down yesterday..Sorry but you don't willingly join the army and then sue them if you find yourself coming home with a few missing limbs or just end up finding yourself worse for the wear...Likewise..if you get paid to play a game that no one held a gun to your head and forced you to play and years later after getting your head knocked around repeatedly you find yourself with head related problems, what gives you the right to sue your former employer for YOUR DECISIONS??? And just for the record, Thank You to All of our American service men and women for your service to our once great nation...YOU are the REAL superior athletes who should be making millions for your sacrifices....not these whiny !@# overgrown babies...Pinkstob...you love handouts don't you?? This is more ridiculous than Chidi thinking that he was sum kind of a great enough football player that should be instantly recognized by a severely young Josh Freeman, and when he wasn't turned around and "reported" that Free was arrogant...Absolutely Absurd...what has our country come to???
  • avatar


    Aaaron Sears had problems that far overshadowed the 2 years he played in Tampa. To sue Tampa Bay for an "injury" is absurd. If you choose to play a contact sport you assume certain risks. Nobody held a gun to his head and said play football or else. The biggest issue I have is that when he was cashing the NFL checks there was never a whisper about any of his issues but now that the money has dried up and hes gone bat $hit its turned into a lawsuit. I dont hear Muhammed Ali lining up in front of the boxing commission to sue them. Aaron Sears' story as tragic as it is could have been avoided had he chose a different profession. Aaron Sears was never the model for mental stability anyway. If anything the concussions made him more of what he already was as opposed to this completely different monster that they paint. IF anyone is at fault it might be the NFL if its found their equipment wasnt up to par but Tampa has no liability in my opinion. Now let the opinions flow lol....
  • avatar


    This is going to tough to respond to, but I am going to anyway and will be blasted by some for giving my opinion; here goes. Isn't it great to to be a lawyer right now? Thank goodness for the slowly ending attorney representation going away because of the internet. Anybody can sue anybody regardles that they themselves are at fault too. Why isn't he also suing the player that caused the blow to his head? Why isn't Sears suing his Agent for not getting him the proper injury insurance coverage while playing football? Also why are not Sears parents suing themselves for allowing and encouraging and supporting their son to play pee wee football, high school football, and college football while he was a minor? This is really getting stupid folks! The sport of football is on the verge of ending if this continues the way it is heading. If I was the NFL, I would end playing football with human beings and strictly go to the animated sports version exclusively. I feel bad that Sears is at the state that he is, but where was his Agent and Parents when they werer being rewarded for Sears playing football in the first place?
  • avatar


    @Horse - Could not agree more! @Pinkstob - Could not disagree more! @Buc4life79- Completely agree! These athletes are paid well for their "careers." From free education (which they should certainly take more advantage of) to the hundreds of thousands to millions in the pros. And Horse is 100000% correct; where is the blame for the parents!? Are they not the ones that take their kids to games, practices, etc. Do they not cheer loudly on the High School and College bleachers for their sons? Come draft day, do they not weep with joy (and start counting the $ signs?) when their sons names are called? The lawyers will be the only winners in any of this. Football is violent (to some degree or another) from the ranks of pee wee to the pros. No one can accurately say otherwise. If they allow their son to play; if they themselves choose this as a career, who else is to blame? Why is it that these lawsuits only go after the NFL? Did they not play football in college, high school, and pee wee? The NFL is the only one with the pockets to pay so why not right? When ticket prices double as do the concessions, we can look to these stupid lawsuits as to the reason (should they win). All money comes from somewhere; any money paid to these players will ultimately come from us, the fans. Just like in the real world; all these people sitting around waiting for a hand out and the "what are you going to do for me next" attitude. Time for these players, and us so called AmeriCANS, to quit bitching and looking for someone to blame. Everyone's life sucks at some point; we all pay for decisions we make. Why should we as fans pay for the decisions of the players, and us taxpayers (over 80% of Americans do NOT pay Federal Taxes!!!!) pay for decisions of others? Get up, stand up, and do the right thing. Want someone to blame for most of things wrong with your life? Look in the mirror. I didnt ask you to play football, I just cheered for you when you did. So what, is it my fault now for cheering you on? Sorry for the rant; I was trying to respond to a few posts at once and tried to fit my argument accordingly. In regard to player safety, I certainly think the NFL is doing a good job now, and should continue to do/get better as the years go on. Player safety should be paramount, but I wont pay to watch flag football either. Technology today is certainly adequate to provide safe pads and helmets to keep the safety and the level of competition at high levels.
  • avatar


    you take the risks, with the money!.
  • avatar


    Are the "mental problems" he was having related to this concussion or is it a separate issue? Arizona Joe, it might be the Army's fault if you were conscripted into the Army like many of us, or you volunteered.
  • avatar


    The fact that the NFL made it clear in 2009/2010 that concussions had long term effects doesn't matter to me. All football players at any level understand there is a risk to their body/head when playing the sport. Just like race car driving, X-Games, deep sea fishing, or serving in the military; if someone joins the Army and gets shot by a hostile enemy, I don't understand why that is the Army's fault. It's part of the job, and I know that going in. I played football long before 2009, and I was a minor, and I still understood the risks of playing a violent contact sport. I do think the NFL should give retired players some money to support them, just like other professions give retirement/pension. But the issue between the NFL and Player's Union is how much is enough. Very few people retire from a company and get unlimited benefits from that company until death. Because playing in the NFL is more hazardous than most professions, the NFL should in my opinion grant more benefits. But suing the Bucs, unless they were negligent, makes no sense to me.
  • avatar


    I commented here on PR on another unrelated story and said that Sears should be part of the players lawsuit against the email. If I were Sears, Giles and Smith I would be suing the NFL and not the Bucs, but as I said in the other post I hope the jury awards Sears a U.S. mint. I don't know about you guys but I didn't know how severe the effects of concussions were until a few years ago. The NFL started doing a better job of understanding the effects and doing things to minimize concussions, but prior to that getting a concussion was like having the wind knocked out of you. The mentality of everyone in the NFL was like, "If you're body isn't hurt get back in there...we're paying you for your athletism, not your brains!" The NFL should have to pay for the players that were injured prior to 2009/2010 when it was made clear to every player the long term effects of concussions. Sears was one of the worst cases of this and I remember the NFL game when he got the concussion (as reported by PR a week or so later). Therefore, he should be awarded a lot of money in a settlement or jury ruling.
  • avatar

    Is this a deep pocket thing? As I remember, Aaron really didn't play that many years for us. Wasn't it less than 50 games? I don't doubt that he had head trauma and that someone should be responsible. But wouldn't his former university, Tennessee, where he played college football be equally or more responsible? If it were Paul Gruber, I could fully understand due to the career he had here, but Aaron Sears? I don't see the same level of responsibility due to the previously mentioned statement.
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