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FENNO: Like other NFL concussion plaintiffs, Dexter Manley tired of suffering
But, really, what price would be enough?
A billion dollars? Ten billion? Fifty billion?
The ugly, uncomfortable truth is no amount of money, no settlement can unravel the generations of damage.
No settlement can rid Steve Smith, the D.C. native who became a bruising fullback for the Raiders and Seahawks, of Lou Gehrig’s disease that forces him to rely on a ventilator to breathe.
No settlement can end former Chiefs All-Pro Otis Taylor’s reliance on a feeding tube as he struggles through Parkinson’s disease and dementia, unable to walk or speak.
No settlement can pull Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Wood from the fog of dementia that clouds his days in a Washington assisted-living facility.
And no settlement can return Manley’s memory. Some memories, though, will never leave.
“You have a few concussions and you get back on the field,” he said. “If you don’t, people start giving you names. You’re not tough. You can’t cut it. You try to get up and go to the huddle. You didn’t want to show weakness or the people you play for, the people you play with will label you soft.”
Manley wishes he played the game differently after what he’s learned in recent years. That much is clear. He would still play the game. But he’d get his head out of the way for hits like the one when he knocked out Cowboys quarterback (and fellow concussion plaintiff) Danny White in the NFC Championship game in January 1983. The second-guessing is too late. The damage has been done.
“I’ve been in the pain,” Manley said, “but I have to stay on my knees praying for God to get me through this.”
He’s thankful help could be on the way. Thinks both parties did right by the game that made him feel like a gladiator. No, the NFL didn’t admit wrongdoing in the settlement. The money sends a different message, though. That’s good enough for Manley.
The settlement isn’t perfect. Maybe more could’ve been wrung from the NFL by dragging the litigation on for a few more years. At least this does something. The game, after all, is one Manley can’t escape.
“It left an everlasting impression on me,” he said. “Football is a very violent sport. It leaves everlasting scars on you.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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