Sept. 22--Gale Sayers told the Tribune on Saturday that he did not consent to a lawsuit filed under his name Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago that alleges the NFL was negligent in handling his repeated head injuries.
And early Saturday evening, his wife, Ardie Sayers, said that attorney John F. Winters called them to say the suit will be dropped and that the situation was "a big misunderstanding."
Winters responded Saturday night by telling the Tribune that Sayers contacted him Tuesday to request the lawsuit filing, then decided Saturday to have it voluntarily withdrawn.
Sayers, the Hall of Fame Bears running back, said he spoke with the attorney this past week at the behest of former Bears safety Shaun Gayle, but he did not agree to sue the NFL.
Winters, who cited client-attorney privilege to withhold certain information, did say Saturday night: "Shaun Gayle had nothing to do with this (alleged original decision by Sayers to file a suit).
"I had about one half of a concussion in all of the years that I played," said Sayers, whose seven-year career ended prematurely in 1971 because of severe knee injuries. "I didn't say any of the things he said in the paper."
Ardie Sayers said Winters, of the firm Winters, Salzetta & O'Brien, LLC in Chicago, had mailed paper work to their residence that they saw on Friday, but Gale Sayers did not sign any of the papers. Winters confirmed that he received no signed documents from Sayers.
"I didn't sign anything. ... I talked to the attorney, but there wasn't nothing to it," Sayers said.
The NFL reached a $765 million settlement last month for more than 4,500 former NFL players who had filed suit against the league, accusing it of hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from the game's violence. The NFL admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement that does not include current players.
Gayle sued the NFL last year, a lawsuit that was consolidated with the master case in Pennsylvania. Winters was his lawyer.
The lawsuit filed Friday sought an unspecified amount of damages, also alleging fraudulent representation by the NFL, claiming the league with failure to warn Sayers that playing through concussions could cause permanent brain damage.
The Tribune and other media reported Sayers was suing after the suit was listed under his name in the computer system of the federal court. Efforts to reach Sayers on Friday were unsuccessful.
"It is crazy," Sayers said Saturday of his name being associated with the suit. "I have been trying to call (Winters), but he is out of the office. When I saw that this morning, I said: 'Why do they have that in the paper?' Those comments (attributed to me in the suit) didn't even sound like me. Other people were calling me and saying the same thing."
Sayers, who celebrated his 70th birthday May 30, became the youngest player at 34 ever to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
Known as the "Kansas Comet," during his college days, Sayers returned to his alma mater to earn a master's degree in educational administration. He was athletic director at Southern Illinois from 1976-81.
In 1984 he started a computer supplies business. Despite his numerous football accolades, Sayers says he is most proud of the fact that he was inducted into the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Kansas built the Gale Sayers Microcomputer Center in recognition of his devotion to education and technology.
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Original headline: Sayers concussion suit against NFL to be dropped
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