D.C. United has a sour history with career-ending injuries. In recent years, a number of former United players, including several members of the 2004 MLS Cup-winning team, have been forced to retire due to injuries sustained while with the club, especially concussions. And now, one of the club’s legends is taking it to court.
Defender Bryan Namoff spent his entire decade-long MLS career with United, winning an MLS Cup, two Supporters Shields, and a U.S. Open Cup while making 195 appearances for the capital side, third-best int he organization’s history. But a serious concussion ended his career at just 31 years of age. His lawsuit contends that negligence on the part of the United medical and coaching staffs led to serious issues for him.
Namoff is seeking $12m in damages from United, $10m in medical negligence, and $2m for the strain put on his marriage. The lawsuit also names former head coach Tom Soehn, now a director with the Vancouver Whitecaps, United athletic trainer Brian Goodstein, and former team physician Christopher Annunziata
The Washington Post has a detailed summary of the story:
In 2009, he had played all but 14 of 2,340 minutes before being sidelined. In a late-season game against Kansas City, Namoff extended himself to head the ball when an opponent ran into him at full force with his shoulder, colliding with Namoff’s head to create a whiplash sensation.
Namoff wasn’t treated and remained in the game. Afterward, the complaint says, Namoff had vision problems, prompting Goodstein to request Annunziata and an optometrist. Proper treatment wasn’t given, the lawsuit claims, and Goodstein told Nadine Namoff that her husband had suffered a concussion.
In the three days between matches, Namoff “was not assessed, evaluated or examined” by United officials and didn’t practice but was allowed to play in the next game, the complaint says.
In the Seattle match, according to the lawsuit, Namoff “experienced and exhibited post-concussive symptoms, which were significantly exacerbated by the end of the game.”
Afterward, Namoff complained to Goodstein and Annunziata about trouble focusing and dizziness. The medical staff “merely stated that they would monitor him,” the suit says.
Annunziata, who worked with United between 2001 and 2010, is the Washington Redskins’ head orthopedic physician.
Soehn, who is now the Vancouver Whitecaps’ director of soccer operations, failed to act in Namoff’s best interests by permitting him to play three days after a concussion, the suit says. Reached by e-mail, Soehn said he didn’t want to comment.
Over the next several months, Namoff experienced migraines, nausea, dizziness and vertigo. The whiplash caused upper cervical trauma, affecting the joints and ligament in his vertebrae. Numerous specialists examined him, including Robert Cantu, the renowned neurologist and concussion expert.
In spring 2010, as United prepared for the upcoming season, Namoff was hopeful of playing again. He was doing light exercise and ball work. At the time, he said, “It’s nice to finally make some strides.”
The symptoms persisted, however. In July 2010, he suspended his career and joined the front office as a special projects manager. At the next home game, United supporters raised “#26” signs – his uniform number – and a thank you banner. Headaches, however, prevented Namoff from continuing to work for the club.
Namoff joined a worrying list of MLS players permanently sidelined by injury, especially concussions. Former teammates Devon McTavish, Alecko Eskandarian, and Josh Gros all had their careers ended by concussions, and fellow sufferer Taylor Twellman, an MLS star before effectively retiring at 28 (and completely retiring at 30), has become a prominent spokesman on the issue.
Full Story: Washington Post