Mr. Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979, helping to lead the team’s “Grits Blitz” defense in 1977, which set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season.
After his playing days, Mr. Easterling started to suffer the consequences of the years of bruising hits, his wife, Mary Ann Easterling, said. He suffered from depression, insomnia and dementia.
He was part of a group of seven former players who sued the NFL in Philadelphia in August, claiming that the league failed to properly treat players for concussions and tried for decades to conceal any links between football and brain injuries.
The NFL has said any allegation that the league intentionally sought to mislead players is without merit.
Mr. Easterling was born Sept. 3, 1949, in Richmond, and played football at the University of Richmond. He was drafted by the Falcons with the ninth-round pick in 1972 and
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