Norwood Resident, Former BYU Football Player, at Head of Concussion Lawsuit Against NCAA - NECN

Norwood Resident, Former BYU Football Player, at Head of Concussion Lawsuit Against NCAA

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    Larry Carr, a Massachusetts resident and former college football player inducted into Brigham Young University's hall of fame, is at the center of a concussion lawsuit against the NCAA.

    (Published Wednesday, April 25, 2018)

    Larry Carr was the captain of the Brigham Young University defense in the early 1970s, a lineman whom the school eventually would induct into its hall of fame.

    A hard hitter, he still holds the record at Brigham Young University 45 years later for the most tackles.

    Those tackles as a linebacker are shaking him still, pushing him to go on offense. His is among 110 cases of former student athletes suing the NCAA, and their respective athletic conferences, arguing the organizations knew of the risk of head injury to its athletes.

    "I love competing," Carr said in an interview in his home in Norwood, Massachusetts. "I love hitting people. I love the praise you got when you hurt somebody."

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    Carr played for BYU from 1971 to 1974—a very different era.

    "That was the goal. The goal was to hit people with your head, your face, and hopefully they wouldn't get up," he said.

    For Carr, it was all about the numbers: jersey number 67, 12 average tackles per game, an estimated 3,000 hits to the head, according to his 2016 lawsuit.

    Carr said he is among the former college football players dealing with the symptoms of the degenerative brain disease called CTE.

    "It's like a different life. I don't remember," Carr said of his college years.

    Anxiety built over the years.

    "I didn't know really what was causing this, just I was different," Carr said. "I was getting angry at everything."

    He saw reports on the news about Mike Webster, the legendary center for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the first professional player diagnosed with CTE, and knew of other players who were struggling.

    Carr eventually went to a neurologist. And tests confirmed what he had feared.

    "They found some really big deficits in memory, executive function, um ... processing. The exact same things CTE hurts," he said. "The diagnosis was football-related brain injury."

    He struggles to finish his sentences, and is afraid for the future.

    "There's not a lot of hope," he said.

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    Researchers at Boston University say college players take more than 1,000 hits every football season, some approaching 100 G's.

    Carr's lawsuit, against BYU, the Western Athletic Conference and the NCAA, alleges that "each season ... student athletes are subjected to the equivalent of several hundred car accidents per season."

    The suit points to more than a century of research, publications and the actions of football organizations, including the NCAA, too related to the injuries hits to the head can cause.

    According to the lawsuit, the NCAA "knew about the debilitating long-term dangers ... but actively concealed this information to protect the very profitable business of amateur college football."

    The NCAA chief medical officer, Dr. Brian Hainline, said in a 2013 interview, "There is no data to prove that athletes who suffer concussions are more susceptible to long-term brain injuries."

    But three years earlier, the NFL developed concussion protocol for all teams to follow.

    The NCAA still leaves it up to each school to adopt "best practices," but doesn't enforce it.

    And the NCAA still allows full contact practices five times a week, more than double the NFL.

    Carr struggled with whether to sue, and whether to include his beloved BYU.

    But he said he did because of a lack of action on the part of the NCAA. And seeing former pro players committing suicide unsettled him.

    "When you have an organization ... that generates millions of dollars from the sport of football, they have no interest in finding out what's going on," he said.

    Players still are filing lawsuits, and eventually, the results could affect tens of thousands of former players.

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    The WAC, the NCAA, the WAC and BYU, which moved from the WAC to the Mountain West Conference in 1999, did not respond for comment.

    In prior and related cases, the NCAA has asked the courts to dismiss the suits.

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