Arron Sears, Jimmie Giles target Bucs in concussion-related lawsuit
For more than three years, former Bucs guard Arron Sears has been exhibiting signs of psychological problems that ranged from an unwillingness to communicate with others to displays of uncontrollable anger.
The problems were so extreme that the promising second-round pick saw his career end when the issues did not subside. But Sears’ problems have never publicly been attributed to any particular cause – until now.
A lawsuit filed this week in Hillsborough Circuit Court points the finger at one particular culprit: football.
Sears’ parents filed the lawsuit on their son’s behalf and are joined as plaintiffs by former Bucs great Jimmie Giles and former Bucs player Donald Smith, claiming that the Bucs, NFL, helmet manufacturer Riddell and several other NFL clubs were negligent and misled and withheld information related the effects of concussions and head injuries.
The suit seeks an unspecified monetary award and punitive damages.
It also outlines, in great detail, some of Sears’ current issues. According to the suit, Sears, who left the club in 2009, is experiencing “various neurological conditions . . . related to head trauma.” It describes him thusly:
“Sears has almost total loss of function, is unable to care for himself, and cannot take (care) of his day-to-day activities. Further, Arron Sears has extreme displays of temper and anger with the appurtenant risk of causing harm to himself and others.''
The suit also claims Sears “sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and concussions on multiple occasions while playing professional football in the NFL.”
This suit is different in one respect from the 93 previous concussion-related lawsuits that have been filed. All of the previously-filed suits have named primarily the NFL as a defendant. This one also names specific teams.
The Bucs declined to comment, deferring to the league office.
Spokesman Brian McCarthy, in an email to the Times, said: "We have not seen a copy of the complaint. But the NFL and its clubs have long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL or its clubs intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."
Judging by the description of Sears in the suit, there has not been any improvement in his condition. He has repeatedly been taken into protective custody by police under the Baker Act in the past two years and, according to the suit, is under the guardianship of his parents.