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Broncos linebacker Aaron Patrick sues NFL, Chargers over sideline injury

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Aaron Patrick, an out of doors linebacker for the Denver Broncos, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL, ESPN, the Los Angeles Chargers and others after tearing his ACL in a sideline collision. The suit comes at a time when game-day conditions at NFL games have come under increased scrutiny.

Patrick was injured during Denver’s Oct. 17 time beyond regulation loss to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium, when in line with the lawsuit filed in California Superior Court, he collided with an improperly positioned NFL replay liaison as he knocked punt returner DeAndre Carter out of bounds. The suit contends that Patrick, together with his momentum carrying him off the sphere, stepped awkwardly on a mat covering wires that connect with the on-field replay system and collided with the liaison.

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The lawsuit by Patrick, a 25-year-old, second-year player whose season was ended by the injury, asks for unspecified damages for lost earnings, bonuses he cannot qualify for, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

“Player safety ought to be the foremost of importance to the NFL and its owners,” attorney William Berman said in a news release (via the Denver Post). “The NFL is a multi-billion-dollar sports enterprise and business, and it must do every part possible to guard its players from noncontact game injuries. As for Patrick’s injuries, Sofi Stadium must have the state-of-the-art equipment to guard for player safety, and never use the variety of $100 mats that you simply would expect to see in a restaurant kitchen.”

The suit, which claims the entire named defendants were negligent, is somewhat paying homage to a lawsuit won by former NFL running back Reggie Bush. His 2015 season with the San Francisco 49ers was cut short when he tore his meniscus as he slipped on concrete next to the sphere at Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, where the Rams were then based. Bush was awarded nearly $12.5 million in damages in 2018.

Patrick’s suit related to the playing conditions in Los Angeles comes as NFL players have grow to be increasingly critical of playing on artificial turf, with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the newest to advocate for changing the playing surfaces in any respect stadiums to natural grass.

“I do think it’s time to go all grass throughout the league,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “I feel you’d see less of those noncontact injuries that we see on among the surfaces, and I feel that it’d be a great step in the best direction towards player safety to make the requirement for each field to be grass.”

Those comments come after the NFL said last week that the speed of noncontact injuries to the knee, ankle and foot are roughly equal on natural and artificial playing surfaces (via ESPN). NFL Players Association President J.C. Tretter disputed that claim Saturday, specifically calling for the alternative of a variety of surface often called “slit-film turf.” In line with the players union, the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Recent Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Recent York Giants and Recent York Jets (who share a stadium with the Giants) have that turf, which consists of pretend blades of grass which have openings that may cause cleats to catch.

“The injuries on slit film are completely avoidable — each the NFL and NFLPA experts agree on the info — and yet the NFL is not going to protect players from a subpar surface,” Tretter wrote on the union’s website, garnering support from several players on social media.

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NFL spokesman Jeff Miller replied in a press release (via Pro Football Talk) that slit-film surfaces “have 2-3 more injuries per 12 months, most of them are ankle sprains — a low-burden injury — whereas slit film also sees a lower rate of fewer high-burden ACL injuries in comparison with other synthetic fields.” Miller added that the league and the union’s jointly approved experts didn’t recommend any changes to surfaces at a gathering this month and concluded “more study is required.”

Green Bay’s Lambeau Field uses a polyethylene-based SISGrass wherein synthetic fibers are stitched along with natural Kentucky bluegrass, and Rodgers wasn’t hopeful that there can be a switch to natural grass any time soon.

“I don’t have a number of confidence in terms of the league making that call without some form of big vote and gripes from certain owners who don’t need to spend the cash,” Rodgers said. He added that a more forgiving playing surface “to me is player safety” and the league “can be putting your money where your mouth is that if player safety is significant.”

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