In a recent blog, we discussed how the World Cup has drawn global attention to the issue of brain injuries in soccer and how leagues handle returning athletes to play after concussion injuries. A recent NBC News piece featured on the Today Show focused on this issue by sharing the story of Bryan Namoff, a former Major League Soccer player who is being represented by Partner Joseph Cammarata and our legal team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.
Bryan Namoff was a former professional soccer player who played with D.C. United. During a game in 2009, Namoff suffered a concussion after colliding with another player at full speed. Namoff exited the game, but was allowed to return to play in a game just three days later. Because D.C. United failed to properly evaluate him after his concussion, Namoff was allowed to return to the field without fully recovering from his injuries. As a result, many of his symptoms never went away, including difficulties focusing and concentrating and debilitating headaches.
Because of his injury and permanent impairments, Namoff’s career was ended and he is unable to hold a regular job. Our firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Namoff against D.C. United and the team doctor for allowing him to return to play without fully recovering. After increased attention was focused on the dangers of prematurely returning players to the game after concussions, Major League Soccer changed its rules in 2010.
Concussion Rules in Major League Soccer
As part of MLS’ new rules, the league established a concussion committee and created mandatory baseline neuropsychological testing for players. Under the new rules, players must be removed from games immediately after showing signs of a concussion. If the player fails cognitive tests, they must see a team specialist and be symptom-free for 24 hours before being cleared to play.
Unfortunately, many believe the new rules are not being enforced, and that too many players are still returning to play after suffering head injuries. One of the largest problems advocates and medical professionals noticed – especially during the World Cup – was that many athletes want to get back on the field despite their injuries.
According to Namoff himself, returning to play is a decision that should not be made by players who are often fueled by their competitive natures. He stated that players aren’t always aware of their complicated medical issues, and that he too thought he was fine to play. Aside from better enforcement of concussion policies, he suggests that it might be time for impartial officials to manage player safety.
As Namoff’s case and the conversation about concussions in soccer continues, our firm will continue to fight on behalf of injured victims and their loved ones and continue our efforts to increase awareness about the need for strict concussion policies in all sports. Our personal injury lawyers are also available to help other athletes and families affected by head injuries. For more information, contact our firm.