Former Penn State Football Player Suing NFL For $5 Million

Former Penn State football player Harry Hamilton is suing the NFL for $5 million to deal with lingering effects from brain injuries suffered during his professional career.

Hamilton, 52, was an Academic All-American safety at Penn State in 1982 and 1983. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round of the 1984 NFL Draft, and spent eight seasons in the league with the Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The lawsuit, which includes Hamilton’s decision to opt out of a $765 million settlement of a class action lawsuit between the NFL and thousands of former players in 2013, was transferred to the Pennsylvania Eastern District of U.S. District Court this week.

In a recent interview with The Citizen’s Voice in Wilkes-Barre, Hamilton said he suffers memory lapses, headaches, a short temper, and other symptoms that he claims were caused by the many concussions suffered during his career.

A hard-hitting safety who played with a gladiator’s mindset, Hamilton played with great intensity to compensate for his relative lack of physical gifts.

“Some say a concussion is when you see stars, or when you get your bell rung,” he said. “Because of the way I played the game, I got my bell rung all the time.”

Hamilton said he needs to take painkillers sometimes just to get through a normal day of work and family activities, due to the toll football took on his body, and suffers memory lapses. The former Nittany Lion retains fond and detailed memories of games from his high school days and his collegiate career at Penn State, but says “it gets fuzzy” when he looks back on portions of his pro career.

“Every day I forget something,” Hamilton said.

A possible explanation for his suffering may be chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative disease caused by head injury that can only be diagnosed post mortem. CTE was diagnosed in the autopsy of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau after the 19-year veteran committed suicide in 2012.

Hamilton, a practicing attorney, said he has tried to reach out to the NFL Players Association with no success. Assistance from the league would help alleviate the cost of future medical bills, and provide the necessary resources for dealing with his health issues. He worries he might not be able to work until normal retirement age and provide for his family.

“That’s scary,” Hamilton said. “For someone who spent his life always being at the top of his game, it is very, very scary.”

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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