Former NFL safety Easterling dies at 62



ATLANTA (AP) — Former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling has died. He was 62.

Mary Ann Easterling said her husband died on Thursday. He was one of seven former players who filed a federal lawsuit in Philadelphia in August over the league’s handling of concussion-related injuries, the first potential class-action lawsuit of its kind.

Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979 and was the centerpiece of the team’s “Gritz Blitz” defense in 1977 that set an NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season.

Easterling’s wife said he went on to start a successful financial services company in Richmond, Va. But she said he suffered from insomnia, depression and other mental issues from the repeated hits.

She said: “In everything that he did, he was a charger.”