Former Detroit Lions running back Jahvid Best was a tantalizing first-round talent when he was selected No. 30 overall in the 2010 NFL draft, but multiple concussions derailed what was once a promising career.
Now Best is taking legal action in filing a lawsuit against the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell, according to a Tuesday, Jan. 28, report by the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett and James Jahnke.
The report outlines the details of the case, in which Best is seeking "economic and noneconomic" damages from Riddell. Such a claim implies that the equipment did not do a good enough job of protecting Best's head from traumatic injuries.
Also included in the suit is the assertion that the NFL knew the risk of head injuries and didn't do enough to protect Best. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court.
According to MLive's Kyle Meinke, Best has been in contact with the NFLPA:
DeMaurice Smith said Jahvid Best has been in contact with NFLPA about lawsuit.— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) February 1, 2014
Best will be 25 years old on Jan. 30, and the story of his brief playing days in the pros is a cautionary tale about the dangers football presents. While there have been provisions in place, league-sanctioned concussion protocol and an emphasis on player safety, it evidently hasn't been enough for Best to be satisfied.
The electric playmaker last played in the NFL in 2011 and was a home-run threat as a ball-carrier with excellent speed in addition to possessing great hands as a receiver out of the backfield.
Bleacher Report's Ty Schalter recently compared Best to Lions legendary running back Barry Sanders, implying that he had the potential to be that special of a star:
Jahvid Best had a shot. RT @PFF_Sam: Every time I see a Barry Sanders highlight I can't help but feel we'll never see that level again.— Ty Schalter (@tyschalter) January 27, 2014
This news comes on the heels of another interesting development in the lead-up to Super Bowl XLVIII. On Monday, Jan. 27, ESPN.com's John Keim cited an anonymous survey involving 320 NFL players—85 percent of whom said they would play through a concussion in the Super Bowl.
Part of what may have caused Best's career to be cut short is the current culture in the league of players fighting through injuries to stay on the field. Running backs can be dealt some nasty hits from massive linebackers, and it didn't help that Best was considered undersized for his position.
When Best was released by Detroit in July 2013, he expressed gratitude for his time with the team, per a press release on the Lions' official website:
I want to thank the Detroit Lions organization for drafting me and giving me an opportunity to fulfill my dream and play in the National Football League. My time as a member of the Lions was a very special time in my life. My teammates, the members of the organization, the Lions fans and the people of Detroit will hold a special place in my heart. I’ll always be a Lion.
Head injuries began for Best in college at California, where he suffered two concussions before sustaining three in the NFL, per Birkett and Jahnke, including this scary incident against Oregon State:
The good news is that Best is pursuing coaching at his alma mater, preparing to join Cal's staff as a student assistant while finishing his degree, per GoldenBearReport.com's Grant Marek on Jan. 18.
It may be difficult for him to get compensation from the league since he had a history during his time with the Golden Bears, but a settlement with Riddell is certainly possible. In any event, suits like this shouldn't come to a halt anytime soon.
As more information becomes available about the impact concussions have, what defines a concussion and how many cases can be related directly to football, the scrutiny and criticism will increase. Hopefully Best can move on to the next stage of his affiliation with the game with as much success as he once promised as a player.