5th May, 2012
Professional Football: A Dangerous Game of Choice
On May 3rd, 2012 the Associated Press announced more than 100 retired football players filed a federal lawsuit against the National Football League in Atlanta. These 100 players are just a few, in the now more than 1,000 cases pending against the NFL. “The cases say not enough was done to inform players about the dangers of concussions in the past, and not enough is done to take care of them today,” according to the Associated Press of Atlanta. With new studies appearing monthly about the dangers of concussions and the lasting impact brain trauma can have, players are starting to question whether the NFL has or had their best interest at heart. With such obvious risk to the players, the issue arises of whether the NFL has a responsibility to take care of players who sacrificed their physical well being for the sport. In recent news, Junior Seau, former All-American and MVP middle linebacker, was found dead in his home, with what is believed to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Chris Henry, Owen Thomas and Dave Duerson are just a few other former members of the National Football League who after dedicating everything to the NFL took their own lives. The disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, according to the Journal of Forensic Nursing is, “a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head.” Some of the early symptoms associated with CTE are deterioration in attention, concentration, memory, disorientation, confusion, headaches, impeded speech and poor judgment. As the disease progresses into the second stage individuals suffer from social instability, erratic behavior, memory loss and early signs of Parkinson’s. The third and final stage of CTE consists of full on dementia, speech difficulties, extreme depression, dysphasia (difficulty swallowing) and suicidal thoughts and tendencies (SportsMD). Players feel as though the NFL has a responsibility to retired and current players to further educate and compensate those individuals who are affected by brain trauma sustained while playing the game. I believe when a player joins the NFL they sacrifice their health for the average half a million-dollar salary, the fame and glory associated with playing and for the love of the game.
More and more players are stepping forward and are beginning to voice their concerns and opinions about the dangers associated with head injuries they incurred while playing professional football. According to the NFL Head Injury Lawsuits Claim Center, the NFL persistently refused to acknowledge a serious problem. The problem is that thousands of former players with head injuries have neurological issues that require long-term medical treatment. The players need help and the NFL with its billions of dollars in profits is ignoring them (Kyros). The lawsuits against the NFL hopes to ensure the long-term health care, compensation and education of all players and spectators alike, of the dangers associated with playing football. William Kyros explains,
The lawsuits are premised on the idea that the NFL routinely downplayed, and ignored medical science about the long-term effects of multiple concussions, and head trauma. The NFL had a duty to act, warn its players and change the rules about when play would be appropriate. There is very strong evidence that the NFL knew about these health problems but ignored them in pursuit of profit. If failing to notice neurological health issues in thousands of former players over the past decades wasn’t sufficient, there have been many studies in which the NFL should have noticed a trend: that repeated head trauma had caused long term problems in former players.
With these lawsuits being filed, studies have...