Reporting Dave Savini
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CHICAGO (CBS) — One of the greatest teams of all time, the 1985 Chicago Bears, could hold the key to one of the biggest problems facing the National Football League and former NFL players today.
Two major figures on that team suffered concussions while playing and then went on to suffer brain diseases. That is why lawyers suing the NFL seek to subpoena records from the Chicago Bears.
2 Investigator Dave Savini reports.
Emery Moorehead was one of the Chicago Bears who helped win the 1985 Super Bowl. He says other teams feared the Bears’ vicious hits. They knocked players out cold in a league that allegedly marketed viscous hits to boost profits.
“It’s all being exposed now,” says Moorehead, who suffered his own tough hits. ”I’ve been knocked dizzy before.”
He is one of nearly 3,000 former NFL players suing the league, alleging a cover-up involving concussions and brain injuries.
“They knew about it, and we continued to play with what they call concussions today,” Moorehead says.
What Chicago Bears team officials knew may soon become part of the NFL lawsuit, says Chris Seeger, a lead attorney on the NFL case.
“We are going to subpoena records from the Bears — there is no question about that,” he says. “We’re going to hope that the Chicago Bears would want to talk with us and that there’s nothing to hide.”
That is because of players like Dave Duerson, whose diseased brain was donated for study after he committed suicide. Also, Jim McMahon suffered concussions and recently revealed he has dementia.
Moorehead says Bears practices during their days were often more brutal than games.
“It would be so illegal to do what they did today,” he says. ”Our ‘84, ‘85, ‘86 team was built on intimidation.”
For now, only the NFL is being sued, instead of individual teams, because it oversees rules and safety. The NFL even funded a committee, from 1994 to 2007, to study brain injuries.
Seeger says during that time numerous outside studies warning of long-term dangers were basically thrown aside.
“We are talking about a cover-up,” Seeger says. “We are talking about the NFL forming a committee and then sort of white-washing the results of all the medical literature out there.”
He says that includes a 2009 University of Michigan study, paid for by the NFL, which found former players had a 20 percent greater chance of suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and other memory-related diseases. The NFL brain injury committee decided it was flawed.
“That’s just an off-the-charts finding,” Seeger says. “That’s the kind of finding where you should go ‘Wow,’ and you don’t refute and you don’t try to whitewash it.”
When Moorehead was asked whether the NFL knew more about concussions than they told players during his time, he said: “I don’t think they cared back then because the league was peaking as far as the fans.”
The NFL’s lawyer did not return CBS 2’s call.
The Chicago Bears declined an interview, but a spokesman says the Bears are proud to be one of the teams on the forefront of concussion awareness and initiatives.
The Bears became the first team in the NFL to make neuropsychological baseline testing mandatory for all players, the team representative said.