A family lawsuit over the suicide of Pro Bowler Junior Seau has been consolidated with NFL concussion litigation in Philadelphia.
A key hearing in the case is set for next week, when lawyers for thousands of former players will try to keep the issue in federal court.
The NFL wants the claims heard in arbitration.
The Seau lawsuit is being moved from California, where the 43-year-old died last year of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The family lawsuit says he sustained violent hits throughout his career that caused traumatic brain injury, depression and, ultimately, his death.
The player lawsuits accuse the league of hiding the dangers of repeated blows to the head, a claim the league denies.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league doesn't plan any additional comment before the April 9 court arguments.
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NBC10's Vai Sikahema, also a former NFL player, was a friend of Seau's for more than twenty years.
"He had a certain innocence about him that was disarming." Sikahem wrote about their friendship when Seau died. The two shared pride in their Polynesian heritage.
"Polynesians claim him because he embodied so much of our best attributes: ferociously competitive on the field yet he played with such joy and enthusiasm for the pure love of sport. Off the field, he was generous to a fault, approachable and fun-loving," Sikahema wrote.