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."
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