Former Cal Golden Bears star running back Jahvid Best’s NFL career lasted just two seasons before he was forced to retire because of concussions.
Doctors would not clear Best to resume his career and he was released by the Detroit Lions last July. He has filed suit against the NFL, helmet maker Riddell and Easton-Bell Sports, the parent company of Riddell.
The Detroit Free Press reported the filing, which was made in Wayne County (Mich.) Circuit Court on Tuesday.
The suit alleges that the NFL knew the risks of concussions but did not do enough to protect players and seeks unspecified “economic and noneconomic damages” of more than $25,000.
Best also has a worker’s compensation claim pending against theLions.
“Unfortunately, with these types of injuries, as has been documented, the long-term effects of the injuries to the brain may not manifest themselves for a number of years,” said Bret Schnitzer, Best’s attorney. “Jahvid obviously had some manifestation of concussion syndrome, which is well documented in the media. But in terms of the full extent of the injury top the brain, as we can see from other players and from the science, that can’t always be determined in a 25-year-old.”
Best turns 25 on Thursday.
Best played 22 games, including 15 starts, for Detroit, gaining 945 yards on 255 carries with six touchdowns as well as catching 85 passes for 774 yards and three scores.
He earned the full-time starting job in 2011 after he was drafted by the Lions 30th overall in 2010. But he sustained a concussion against the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 16, 2011, and never played in another NFL game.
Best entered the NFL with a bit of a concussion history. In a Nov. 7, 2009, game at Memorial Stadium against Oregon State, Best briefly lost consciousness after a fall from at least five feet in the air after he leaped toward the end zone, flipped over a defender and landed on the back of his head in the end zone.
He never played another collegiate game before opting to enter the NFL draft the following spring.
At first glance, it’s easy to be dismissive of a guy who “made millions of dollars” in the eyes of many fans playing a game that many claim they would play for free.
The suit claims he never should have been cleared to play in the NFL, that the league allowed Best to be drafted and play despite his concussion history and that by doing so, the league breached its duty to Best and caused him “additional, permanent and severe injuries to his brain.”
Best is reportedly going to join the Golden Bears’ staff as a student assistant.