Sports Law

When I Pitched The Partners About An NFL Concussion Lawsuit

This Summer I am teaching a class at the University of Florida titled, Issues in Sport Law.  Additionally, I have been provided the opportunity to sit in on a class taught by ESPN and Sports Illustrated writer Andrew Brandt that is called Business and Legal Aspects of Professional Sports.  Brandt is teaching the class through Villanova University’s online offering, which makes it easy for anyone to access the content.

I have been asked to chime in from time-to-time to discuss how a topic covered in Brandt’s class has played a part in my career.  This will be the first post in a series of articles in which I do my best to cover such ground by highlighting certain information provided by Brandt and supplementing it with whatever non-privileged information that I am able to provide.

Right now, Brandt is discussing the settlement of lawsuits joined together but originally filed by over 5,000 former NFL players who accused the league of hiding the ramifications of suffering head injuries over the years.  It could eventually cost the NFL $1 billion and make many plaintiffs’ lawyers very wealthy.

It brings back memories of when I was in my first year practicing law while juggling my own fledgling sports agency on the side and writing daily articles here on Sports Agent Blog.  I came across an article on NFL players’ head injuries in a legal publication and immediately figured this was something I needed to bring to the attention of the partners at the law firm.  I was told to flesh out my theory, propose a plan and give the partners an idea of costs.

While I do not know what I did with those notes, I do recall going home and spending hours researching the topic and coming up with a game plan.  I was convinced that this was worthy of pursuing.  I also started to go through my Rolodex and see if retired players would be interested in filing a lawsuit — by and large they were.

Then it came time to pitch the partners.  They seemed to be buying in, until they determined that it was too heavy a risk for a law firm primarily focused on insurance defense litigation.

This was before a single lawsuit had been filed.  Four years later, millions of dollars are ready to be provided to suffering former players and the lawyers representing them are destined to become very wealthy.

Now I have my own law firm.  Next time there will be no holding back.

If you’re interested in learning more about Villanova’s online sports program, please visit

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

2 replies on “When I Pitched The Partners About An NFL Concussion Lawsuit”

Hi Darren: I enjoy the blog. Sounds like more than a little hindsight bias here. How much of the partners money and time were you ready to risk when the outcome was far from certain? Hardest part of my job (financial advisor) is talking clients out of wild flier investments: they somehow never forget the ones they wish they had done, but never remember the ones that went busto.

Certainly a bit of hindsight bias. I wish I had my notes from back then. I don’t want to make it seem as though this was any way a guaranteed win, and but for a settlement, the plaintiffs could have not prevailed.

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