Ray Easterling, one of the lead plaintiffs in the class action concussion lawsuits filed by former players against the NFL, has committed suicide. Easterling, who was 62 years old, was discovered by his wife in his home after passing away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Easterling was a starting safety for the Atlanta Falcons from 1974-1977 and reportedly played through multiple concussions during his playing career. He has suffered with depression and insomnia since retiring from the game and was diagnosed with dementia in 2011. The quotes from his wife, Mary Ann Easterling, regarding his condition are truly frightening.
"He had been feeling more and more pain. He felt like his brain was falling off. He was losing control. He couldn't remember things from five minutes ago. It was frightening, especially somebody who had all the plays memorized as a player when he stepped on the field."
Easterling is one of thousands of players who have filed lawsuits against the NFL for alleged negligence regarding concussions to players. He's also one of an alarming number of former players who have taken their own lives after their playing careers had passed, the most well-known recent case before him being Dave Duerson. Undoubtedly, this tragedy will have some effect on those lawsuits and further discussions regarding the long-term effects of concussions.