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‘You knew you had to play’

Back when Len Hauss wore No. 56, long-term consequences of blows to his head didn’t matter. Keeping his job did. He figured a handful of his backups over 14 seasons were better than him. If they couldn’t play, no one would know and he would keep his spot. So, he rarely missed a down.

“If you got hurt, you did your dead level best not to let anybody know that,” Hauss said. “You didn’t let the trainers know and you certainly didn’t let the coaches know because you wanted to be on the club. … You couldn’t afford to let somebody else get your job.”

Financial help isn’t what Hauss wants from the lawsuits. Medical evaluation and attention, improving the quality of life for ex-players suffering residual effects matters more. The master complaint filed earlier this month in Pennsylvania requests NFL-funded monitoring and treatment for plaintiffs. An NFL filing in response to a concussion case filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey estimated a baseline evaluation would cost $6,200 to $8,600 per person.

Hauss never had a conversation with a Redskins trainer about whether he should play after a hit left him “goofy” or “acting kind of funny.” He didn’t leave. Was that the right decision?

“You knew you had to play,” Hauss said. “We’ll worry about the concussion later.”