Eleven players have joined a state lawsuit against the NFL Players Association, including former Chiefs Vaughn Booker, Tamarick Vanover and Kevin Williams.
The lawsuit, which was filed in St. Louis City Circuit Court last month by three former players, including former Chiefs defensive end Neil Smith, alleges the union withheld information regarding the long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries and failed to protect its players.
The four ex-Chiefs are joined in the suit by former Blue Springs running back Ladell Betts, who played in the NFL from 2002 to 2010, and linebacker Anthony Davis, who played from 1993 to 2000.
Two other players, former Lawrence Free State and Iowa star Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks, are a part of separate lawsuit filed by the same attorneys against the players association in U.S. District Court in St. Louis last month, which is thought to be the first-ever federal class-action lawsuit against the union.
The players association released a statement last month regarding the federal lawsuit, saying it has “no merit” and that it intends to defend itself against the allegations.
“The NFLPA has made the health and safety of its members a priority and the advancements in professional football on concussion education, prevention and treatment are a result of our efforts,” the statement read.
The allegations in both lawsuits are essentially the same, claiming the players association has for decades been aware of the evidence linking repetitive traumatic brain injuries to long-term neurological problems but ignored the risks to players and failed to alert players to the issue.
Booker, 46, played for the Chiefs from 1994 to 1997, recording 96 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks. Booker played five more years with the Bengals and Packers.
Vanover, 40, played for the Chiefs from 1995 to 1999, returning four kicks and four punts for touchdowns during his career.
Williams, 41, played for the Raiders and Packers from 1999 to 2001. He spent time on the Chiefs’ practice squad in 1998.
Seven other players joined the state lawsuit: Ron Dugans (Bengals), Sheddrick Gurley (Buccaneers), Chad Johnson (Broncos/Colts/Bengals), Kendyll Pope (Colts), Corey Sawyer (Bengals/Jets), Shevin Smith (Buccaneers/Rams) and Tarlos Thomas (Texans).
Joe Horn, who was drafted by the Chiefs and also played for the Saints and Falcons, joined the federal class-action lawsuit.