Do football players face higher risk of brain injury?

Football fans, whether located in Florida or across the country, love watching their gridiron heroes flying around the field every Sunday. And when football stars smash into each other in dramatic collisions? For some fans, that’s all the better.

But what if all those big hits are increasing the risk of brain injury for star players?

That’s the question being debated in federal court today thanks to a class-action lawsuit initiated by former NFL players.

According to Courthouse News Service, the lawsuit alleges that the National Football League for four decades has “turned a blind eye” as NFL coaches have encouraged players to use their helmets as weapons against their opponents. The former football players are also alleging that the NFL has worked with team staffers to hide the long-term brain injury risks that vicious helmet hits cause players.

The former players are asking for medical monitoring for all current and former NFL players, Courthouse News Service reports.

The NFL has responded by asking a federal judge to dismiss the class-action lawsuit. In part, the NFL claims that the retired NFL players have no standing to demand medical monitoring for current players.

The former players want the NFL to cover the costs of monitoring programs for all current and former players because these players, they argue, are at higher risk to develop such brain disorders as Alzheimer’s.

It’s uncertain what fate awaits this case; however, players, outside medical experts and NFL officials have all been taking a closer look at the long-term health ramifications football players face. The league’s tougher concussion rules — in which doctors can forbid players who have sustained a concussion from returning to the field — are an example of this.

Source: Courthouse New Service, “NFL Tries to Dismiss Ex-Players’ Helmet Case,” Reuben Kramer, Nov. 10, 2011