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Two former Chicago Bears the latest to sue NFL over concussions

New York Jets Raymond Austcelebrates after blocking TampBay Buccaneers punt first quarter Sunday Dec. 14 1997 Giants Stadium East Rutherford

New York Jets Raymond Austin celebrates after blocking a Tampa Bay Buccaneers punt in the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 14, 1997, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 31-0. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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Updated: December 15, 2012 12:11AM

Two former Chicago Bears are the latest retired NFL players to sue the league over its handling of concussions.

Backup linebacker Bruce Herron — who wore Dick Butkus’s famous No. 51 jersey from 1978-82 — and Raymond Austin, a backup defensive back from 1998-99, brought the lawsuit against the NFL alongside Gerry Sullivan, an Oak Park native who was a backup offensive lineman with the Cleveland Browns from 1974-81.

All three men are suffering from “traumatic brain injuries” as a result of concussions they suffered while playing in the league, according to their attorney William Gibbs of lawfirm Corboy and Demetrio.

More than 3,500 former players — including former Bear Shaun Gayle and the family of the late Dave Duerson — have pending suits against the league relating to its handling of concussions.

The NFL has consistently denied allegations in all of the suits, insisting player safety has long been a priority and that it never intentionally mislead players about the dangers of football.

While the players filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court, the NFL has filed a motion in the case to move it to federal court - arguing its the proper jurisdiction.

Gibbs said he expects the latest case — which also targets helmet manufacturer Riddell — to be consolidated with hundreds of other similar cases in federal court in Philadelphia before it is finally tried in Chicago.

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