Player that sued NFL over concussions commits suicide

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One of the first players to sue the NFL over concussions and head injuries has committed suicide.

Ray Easterling, a defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1970’s, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Richmond, Va., on Thursday. He was 62.

Easterling was a top performer in the secondary for the Falcons when they set a team record with 26 interceptions in 1977, a year in which the defense allowed a league-low 129 points.

Easterling sued the NFL in August and according to his attorney Larry Coben wrote the NFL “continuously and vehemently denied that it knew, should have known or believed that there is any relationship between NFL players suffering concussions while playing . . . and long-term problems such as headaches, dizziness, dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease that many retired players have experienced.”

Easterling had suffered for the past 20 years, according to his wife, battling depression, insomnia, memory loss and more. He was diagnosed with dementia in March 2011.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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