Add 1992 Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien to the ever-growing list of former players suing the NFL because, they say, more should have been done to inform them about concussions and more can be done now to help them.
The former Washington Redskins and Washington State quarterback is among more than 120 players who are plaintiffs in a recent addition to the dozens of lawsuits pending in federal court in Philadelphia.
Rypien has dealt with depression and has problems remembering simple things, including conversations with his girlfriend – so they record themselves talking.
He said he had two diagnosed concussions during 11 seasons in the NFL, which included a championship with the Redskins, and stints with the Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts. But he also says there were more than 20 hits that left him feeling “not in touch with my body.”
During a telephone interview Thursday, Rypien recalled absorbing a big hit late in a game – “You get dinged, and you feel your head ringing, and your teeth chatter,” he said – and then going to the sideline and being told by Redskins coach Joe Gibbs late in a game to run a play called “50 Gut.”
“I go, ‘What? We don’t have that in our playbook,’ ” Rypien said. “Of course, it was, like, a routine play that we ran time and time again. But I couldn’t remember. I was thinking of my high school or college playbook. My mind wasn’t in the right playbook.”
And yet, Rypien said, he finished that game and then “was back at practice on Wednesday. And there were no tests. … All those things add up.”
Hundreds of players have been suing the NFL since last year in the wake of a growing body of scientific evidence connecting repeated blows to the head and long-term brain damage. Most of the cases have been brought together before a judge in Philadelphia. Rypien’s suit seeks medical monitoring for former players, so they can be checked for cognitive problems and then get proper care.
The NFL has said it did not intentionally seek to mislead players and has taken action to better protect players and to advance the science of concussion management and treatment.
“Hopefully, I can get some help in the next 10 years,” Rypien said, “so my quality of life isn’t relegated to something I don’t want.”