Craig Steltz, former LSU and Rummel football star, sues NFL over traumatic brain injuries – The Advocate

Former Rummel and LSU football star Craig Steltz, who helped lift the Tigers to a national championship as a hard-hitting safety in 2007, is suing the National Football League over traumatic brain injuries he says he suffered playing for the Chicago Bears.

Steltz, who just missed the cutoff date for the national settlement that covered some 20,000 former NFL players, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in New Orleans federal court. He lives in Jefferson Parish.

The lawsuit says Steltz “sustained repetitive, traumatic sub-concussive and/or concussive head impacts” while he played for the Bears between 2008 and 2014, but it does not go into further detail about the nature of his health problems.

Steltz and his wife, Lindsay Steltz, are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed by Mandeville attorney Norman Hodgins III and Austin, Texas, lawyer David Franco, who specializes in concussion claims.

Steltz is seeking unspecified financial damages. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo.

The lawsuit spends dozens of pages listing a litany of claims about the NFL’s early knowledge that concussions on the field could leave players with lasting brain damage. However, the suit claims, NFL officials suppressed or ignored evidence that concussions lead to a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

It was only in March 2016 — nearly two years after Steltz left the game — that the NFL officially acknowledged the link, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit claims that acknowledgement came too late for Steltz, who was cut from the Bears in August 2014.

That date is significant, because the $1 billion settlement that ended other players’ claims against the league covers only those who stopped playing in July 2014 and before.

Steltz is one of the most successful football players to come out of the New Orleans area in recent memory.

He helped Metairie’s Archbishop Rummel High School win four Catholic League titles and twice earned all-state honors, which was good enough for him to become the first Raider football player to have his number (10) retired.

He primarily played safety at Rummel but at times would return kicks or line up at running back, such as the time he rushed for 170 yards and three touchdowns as well as a two-point conversion on seven fourth-quarter carries to power a legendary comeback victory over rival Jesuit on Halloween night in 2003.

Steltz then joined LSU and was mostly a backup until his senior year in 2007, when he led the Tigers in tackles and interceptions. His long blond locks and booming hits endeared him to fans as LSU won its second of two BCS championships in New Orleans.

He also landed All-American honors and was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive back.

A shoulder blade fracture suffered in the title-game victory over Ohio State caused him to miss the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, both of which would have been opportunities for him to improve his draft stock. But the Chicago Bears picked him in the fourth round of the 2008 draft.

He appeared in 77 games for the Bears over six seasons. He started only seven games but made a mark on special teams, racking up the second-most tackles on that unit during his career. His career ended after he missed most of the Bears’ 2014 off-season conditioning program and training camp with a groin injury.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

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