Falls’ Youso, a former NFL player, to benefit from settled lawsuit
For as long as the recently settled class-action lawsuit against the NFL, filed on behalf of retired players now plagued by concussion-related brain injuries, had dragged on, International Falls' Frank Youso wasn't terribly optimistic that a reso...
For as long as the recently settled class-action lawsuit against the NFL, filed on behalf of retired players now plagued by concussion-related brain injuries, had dragged on, International Falls’ Frank Youso wasn’t terribly optimistic that a resolution was imminent.
“They’ve got so much money that they just keep pushing it aside,” the 80-year-old Youso said by phone earlier this month of the richest sports league in the world.
Less than a week after Youso spoke those words, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the league’s $1 billion settlement that covers more than 20,000 former players.
Youso and his wife, Evelyn, joined the lawsuit about five years ago.
He played for the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders, then a member of the American Football League. In 1958, the year Youso was drafted in the second round by New York, he appeared in the NFL championship game - the “Greatest Game Ever Played” - where the Giants lost in overtime to Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. After three years in New York, the Giants released Youso so he could play closer to home, with the expansion Vikings. The offensive tackle became the first player ever signed by the Vikings, butted heads with coach Norm Van Brocklin for two seasons (1961-62) and, following a short-lived retirement, spent his final three years with Al Davis and the Raiders.
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Youso says he tore up both knees in Oakland - an injury to the right one ultimately ended his career. Today, he says, “I can’t feel anything in either leg, from my knees down to my toes.”
While those health issues are debilitating in their own right, more concerning is the effect of countless head impacts Youso endured on the field.
According to the complaint: “As a result, Youso has experienced cognitive and other difficulties including, but not limited to, headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, dementia, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, irritability, and neck and cervical spine arthritis and associated numbness/tingling.”
He says his neurosurgeon has told him he has signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
“If I’m going to get something in the garage, I have to go back about three, four times before I remember what it is,” Youso said.
The NFL estimates that “6,000 former players - or nearly three in 10 - could develop Alzheimer’s disease or moderate dementia,” according to the Associated Press.
Youso is a 1954 graduate of International Falls. He went on to play football at the University of Minnesota.
He says his first salary in the NFL was $8,000, plus a $2,000 bonus. When he retired from the Raiders, he was making about $14,000. The recent settlement with the league stipulates that the average payout will be about $190,000, but that is dependent on several variables, including age and playing experience. Because Youso is 80, his payment will be significantly less.
He hated to see the lawsuit repeatedly shoved to the backburner, not so much because of what it meant for him but because others needed the financial assistance.
“I know people, people that I played with, who are worse off than me,” Youso had said. “They’re just hoping this comes through and they get a little money.”