Beaumont's Provost Umphrey law firm says it is now representing more than 150 former players in litigation against the National Football League.

The former NFL players, who claim they have developed mental or physical problems from concussions suffered while playing professional football, have filed lawsuits against the league for allegedly concealing the risks associated with head injuries.

"The bottom line is that the NFL has put its profits ahead of the health and well being of its players," Provost Umphrey attorney Matthew Matheny said in a press release. "Wanting their players on the field entertaining the fans instead of on the training tables is an attempt to protect a multi-billion dollar business, and purposefully side-step and obfuscate the link between multiple head injuries and the lifelong brain trauma my clients suffer from every day."

The suits claim to represent all NFL football players and the spouses of the players who sustained one or more concussions or suffered concussion like symptoms and mental or physical problems as a result of injuries.

The players accuse the NFL of misrepresenting and concealing medical evidence regarding the risks associated with concussions for approximately 16 years. The former players say that multiple concussions can cause severe mental problems such as depression and early-onset dementia and physical problems including brain degeneration.

On April 13, Michael Brooks, Harold Bishop, Ronnie Halliburton, Liffort Hobley, Justin Vincent, Corey Raymond and Shawn King filed a class action against the National Football League, Riddell Inc., doing business as Riddell Sports Group Inc., All American Sports Corp. doing business as Riddell/All American and Riddell Sports Group Inc. in federal court in New Orleans.

Another lawsuit was filed on April 23 in federal court there with named plaintiffs including Rickey Jackson, Gary and Karen Barbaro, Brett and Cheri Bech, Corey and Farrah Dixon, Vaugh and Shirley Johnson, Keith and Afton Joseph, Percy and Annette Keith, Derrick and Noel Lewis, Frank and Dana Lockett, Tommy and Susan McCleskey Jr., Richard and Katherine Jackson, and Jimmy and Tanya Spencer.

The next day, the Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont filed suit on behalf of 31 players in the Southern District of Texas Houston Division.

Some of the more familiar names in the Houston suits include Dallas Cowboys players Bob Lilly and Randy White. The other Texas plaintiffs are Lee Roy Jordan, Rayfield Wright, Ralph Neely, Charles Howley, Larry Cole, Charles Waters, Donny Anderson, Ronald Brown, James Colvin, Mike Connelly, Reginald Doss, John Fitzgerald, Walt Garrison, Gary Hammond, Harold Hays, David Hill, Anthony Miller, James Montgomery, Tyrone Montgomery, Preston Pearson, James Smith, Diron Talbert, Don Talbert, Malcolm Walker, Jerry Broadnax, Jerry Norton, Donald Mcllheny, Angelo King and Marlene Tubbs as next friend of Gerald Tubbs.

Fourteen additional players were added to the Provost Umphrey suit on May 21, and 27 more joined the suit on June 10.

Among the players are the first African-American scholarship winner and second African- American athlete in the Southwest Conference Jerry LeVias, former Texas Aggie Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow, former Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Talley, former Dallas Cowboy guard John Niland and former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Wiliams.

Some of the suits also name helmet maker Riddell as a defendant.

Causes of action filed against the NFL and Riddell include negligence, fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation and conspiracy.

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