Sports

Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino sues NFL over head injuries

Dan Marino once threw a game-winning pass that he didn’t remember, and he wasn’t even sure after if the Dolphins had won.

Don Shula, who allowed a dazed Marino to return to action, even quipped after that “when he came out of the game in the fourth quarter, he wasn’t sure where he was.”

More than two decades later, Marino now claims the blows to the head he suffered during a 17-year career have had a long-term effect — and wants restitution.

Marino, the Hall of Fame quarterback, and 14 other former players filed the latest concussion lawsuit against the NFL in federal court last week, alleging fraudulent concealment and negligence. The action comes nine months after the league and some 4,500 ex-players settled a massive lawsuit for $765 million — which critics have called far short of satisfactory.

Marino, who played from 1983 to 1999, claims damages resulting from long-term and chronic injuries and financial loss due to his employment in the NFL. He seeks awards of compensatory damages, punitive damages and relief for medical monitoring.

The former players allege that for more than 40 years, the NFL and its teams: “have continuously and fervently denied that it knew, should have known or believed there to be any relationship between NFL players suffering concussions while playing, the NFL policies concerning tackling methodology or the NFL policies about return-to-play, and long-term physical, neurological, mental and cognitive problems, such as headaches, dizziness, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS – a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s Disease), dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease, impulse control, anger issues, confusion, depression and/or other neurogenic disorders that many players have experienced.”

An email sent to a league spokesman for comment late Monday was not immediately answered. The league has previously denied similar allegations.

Marino’s fellow plaintiffs are Richard Bishop, Ethan Johnson, Chris Dugan, Anthony Grant, Mark Green, LaCurtis Jones, John Huddleston, Erik Affholter, Toddrick McIntosh, Dwight Wheeler, Jackie Wallace, Moses Moreno, Peter Manning (along with his wife Susie) and Bruce Clark.

Bishop, the suit’s lead plaintiff, played for the New England Patriots from 1974 to 1983. He now lives in Miami. McIntosh, a defensive end with a short career in the NFL, is a resident of Pembroke Pines.

While their action is separate from the larger filing, both cases are being handled by the same Philadelphia-based law firm. Efforts to reach Marino’s attorneys for comment late Monday were unsuccessful.

Marino was a football ironman, playing through various injuries during his career that included shoulder, knee and hip issues. He didn’t miss a start from 1984 to 1992 — and played the week after he briefly got knocked out of the aforementioned game against the Seahawks.

At the time, Shula told reporters that doctors gave a woozy Marino the OK to return. He ultimately connected with Fred Banks on a 15-yard deciding touchdown pass with 2:15 left in regulation.

Marino did not speak after the game, but Dr. Edward St. Mary said that he had retrograde amnesia after the play. He even asked equipment manager Bobby Monica who won the game.

The latest lawsuit comes less than a year after Mark Duper, Marino’s longtime teammate and target, was diagnosed with signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE, as it is more commonly known, is a degenerative brain disease that is caused by head trauma and has depleted Duper’s memory and caused mood swings, anger, depression, panic attacks and severe headaches.

“From all I know & would testify #Dolphins ranked with worst in terms of trainers taking care of injuries properly,” veteran player agent Ralph Cindrich, who did not represent Marino during his career, wrote on Twitter Monday night. “See a Dr. but too late.”

Miami Herald sportswriters Armando Salguero and Barry Jackson contributed to this report.

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