More than 150 former Cardinals players have file a claim in the concussion lawsuit settlement with the NFL
By Nate Fain, Daniel Perle and Veronica Graff | Special to The Republic
Mark Maddox is left with fragments of what should be his fondest memories: He’s lost the details of a family trip to Disney World, and forgotten most of what happened in the three Super Bowls he played in. Sometimes, he watches video of his own games to help jog a memory impaired by too many hits to the head.
Tyronne Stowe once anchored the Cardinals’ defense. Nowadays, he often forgets where he’s going when he’s driving on Arizona highways. He forgets that he’s babysitting his grandchild. Stowe recently covered the walls of his office with photos to remind himself of his days as a hard-hitting NFL linebacker who for years went head-to-head with opponents – literally.
Derek Kennard wears hearing aids, thanks to his history of concussions. He suffers from anxiety attacks when he’s in any crowded room and has to leave. Just two years ago, Kennard lost his last job as a guidance counselor at Grand Canyon University because he couldn’t remember his duties.
To most Americans, even to most football fans, the 2011 lawsuit against the National Football League for concussion-related injuries is all about numbers – 5,000 former players, a $1 billion initial settlement, scores of lawyers.
But for the nine former Cardinals players interviewed for this article, those numbers are irrelevant. What matters most is whether, or when, or how soon memory loss might become dementia, then a death too early for men once idolized for their physical prowess.
The 21 percent
All told, there are 157 former Cardinals who played for the team since it moved to Arizona in 1988 who are among the 5,000 men who joined in the lawsuit, according to a database analysis of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs and all former Cardinals players. Those 157 represent 21 percent of everyone who’s played for the team since 1988. Another 109 players from the franchise’s days in St. Louis also joined the suit.