Emory Law Journal


Mikayla Paolini


As research connecting CTE to football grows, the NFL faces litigation concerning its role in preventing or raising awareness of this issue. In response, the League has taken a page from the tobacco industry playbook by employing the same strategies used during decades of litigation surrounding the health consequences of smoking cigarettes. Accordingly, this Comment explores the utility of using Big Tobacco as a predictive template for future NFL/CTE litigation by unpacking the historical parallels and distinctions between these two industry giants, especially as pertains to an assumption of risk defense. Ultimately, this comparative analysis informs litigation strategy by outlining the unique pressures and structures faced by NFL plaintiffs such that they should overcome an assumption of risk defense. While their circumstances are fundamentally different, NFL athletes face the same institutional complicity and orchestrated denial as did tobacco users, only this time, all of America has a Sunday ticket.