Dave Pear, an activist and former NFL defensive lineman who played from 1975 to 1980, believes that the concussion issue and its related lawsuits could have a dizzying effect that could spell the end of the NFL for good.
"The concussion issue, if not handled right, has the potential to end football," Pear told the Denver Post. "If you look at the history of the game, (John) Heisman saved the game by inventing the forward pass. Now it's come full circle."
Pear played nose tackle for the Baltimore Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders where his final NFL appearance came in Super Bowl XV in a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. But he said a severe neck injury was a root cause of his retirement in 1981.
The former player said that the NFL is not doing enough for its disabled veterans. The 58-year-old has had numerous neck, back and hip surgeries in addition to problems with memory loss that qualified him for some Social Security benefits in 2004.
Pear said: "The NFL hasn't been honest about concussions, just the way the tobacco companies weren't honest about cigarettes. They're going to deny."
Pear is a lead plaintiff in one of the class-action concussion lawsuits against the NFL. He's also highly critical of the NFL Players Association and the NFL Alumni Association.
Pear encourages former players to sign a "declaration of independence" on his blog from the NFLPA, which he believes has not taken care of ex-players and acts without their consent.
"I enjoyed playing professional football until I was injured," Pear said. "Once I became injured, the game turned on me. And 95 percent of the retired players have become the enemy of the NFL."