UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


Melanie Navarro


Football is America’s pastime. Over one hundred million people tuned in to watch this year’s Super Bowl. Sundays during football season are spent in front of a television rooting for our favorite teams. Football has been an integral part of American culture for over 120 years. But in recent years, football has lost yardage. Information regarding the causal link between head injuries on the football field and degenerative brain diseases has come to light. Thousands of former National Football League (“NFL”) players took part in a highly publicized class-action lawsuit against the league. Players alleged that the NFL knew of the link and suppressed the information in an effort to avoid bad publicity and damages.

The trauma and devastation are not limited to the NFL. Former college football players have filed lawsuits against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), claiming the association knew of the long-term effects of concussions and withheld the information from athletes.

The NCAA argues that it has no duty to these athletes. However, many of these young adults are made promises upon recruitment to a college program while still in high school. They are promised an education and unrivaled exposure to NFL scouts and teams. The NCAA fails to ensure these athletes are getting a quality education and further denies any liability stemming from the head injuries they sustained during their college careers.

Many of the lawsuits filed by these former NCAA athletes are still in the early stages of litigation. Inspired by the success of the NFL concussion litigation, these athletes have taken on an association that makes over a billion dollars a year and governs every aspect of college athletics. It will be for the courts to decide if the NCAA has breached its duty to these athletes on the field and in the classroom.