(CNN)A group of former NFL players is suing the league's disability benefit program, commissioner Roger Goodell and the disability board, accusing them of routinely denying disability claims.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in the District Court for the District of Maryland, 10 players -- including two-time Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee and Super Bowl XLII champion Jason Alford -- said they were "seeking redress for the wrongful denial of benefits, the denial of statutorily mandated full and fair review of benefits denials, violations of plan terms or governing regulations, and breaches of fiduciary duty."
The lawsuit alleges the accused parties acted in "an overly aggressive and disturbing pattern of erroneous and arbitrary benefits denials, bad faith contract misinterpretations, and other unscrupulous tactics" when it came to withholding disability benefits and a lack of thoroughness when reviewing medical records.
It alleged the board "members have engaged in repeated and substantial derelictions of their responsibilities, have repeatedly refused to pay contractually mandated benefits, and have statistically proven conflicts."
The lawsuit alleges the league's disability benefit program, commissioner Goodell and the disability board found ways "to limit the payment of benefits to the very Players whom the Plan was designed to help" and that players were "forced to navigate a byzantine process in order to attempt to obtain those benefits, only to be met with denial."
It accuses the disability board of not hiring neutral physicians to carry out assessments of players' injuries, saying these were "biased."
The lawsuit alleges a correlation between the amount of money paid to physicians and the likelihood a player's claim would be denied.
In the period between March 31, 2019, and April 1, 2020, 4.5% of players were found to be totally and permanently disabled by physicians paid more than $210,000, said the lawsuit.
Conversely, in the same period, 30% were found to be disabled by physicians paid $54,000-$60,000.
'Head, neck, and lumbar spine impairments'
Eric Smith, who played for the New York Jets until 2012, suffered 13 documented traumatic brain injuries. He was denied line