Concussions in the NFL
Recently in the NFL, the issue of concussions has been thrusted into the spotlight, and for good reasons. From the 2009 season to the 2010 seasons, the amount of concussions increased by twenty-one percent denoting a serious problem in the NFL . The current NFL guideline regarding concussions is vague and needs to be changed. Currently the rule simply states that upon having a concussion, the player should not come back until he is fully asymptomatic. The problem with this is that concussions are often times tricky to diagnose and test, and when you couple that with the players’ competitiveness and motivation to play, it often leads to players coming back onto the field before they are truly healthy. The current NFL guideline needs to be remodeled to enforce a stricter, more uniform policy amongst all NFL organizations. Because concussions deal with brain activity, uniform policies are often hard to implement but through advances in equipment and monetary punishments the NFL is making tremendous strides to rectify the issue.
Until recently, concussions were thought to have been a minor injury, an injury that would cause the player to sit out a few plays but not a whole game. Several former NFL players say that back when they played football, concussions were viewed as just a headache or a temporary loss of consciousness, but no big deal. Upon suffering a concussion, players were told to go back into the game a few plays later. If the player refused, coaches and media would often question the athlete’s toughness. However through scientific research in recent years, concussions have become far more serious and even have long term implications. One prime example is former Philadelphia Eagle safety Andre Waters. A defensive back known for his hard hitting, Waters said he quit counting concussions after his fifteenth. Four years ago, at age 44, Waters committed suicide. After Waters' suicide, Bennet Omalu, the doctor who studied his brain said the damage he discovered was consistent with that of 80- to 90-year-olds suffering from dementia . Waters’ family and friends were confused as to how he could have killed himself, but Omalu confidently states that football killed him. He killed himself because of C.T.E., a form of degenerative brain damage caused by multiple hits to the head . After studying the brains of six former athletes, six of the six athletes suffered from C.T.E. Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bear, also took his own life this past February due to his injury-filled NFL career. Before taking his own life, Duerson sent text messages to all of his family members requesting that his brain tissue be studied for C.T.E., a disease him and Waters both suffered from due to the violence of the sport (Schwarz). Until the last few years, C.T.E. was a relatively unknown disease; however, now it has proven to be deadly and nearly all former NFL players suffer from it due to amount of collisions they endure throughout their careers.
With rising C.T.E. rates as a major cause of concern, one of the most difficult questions to answer when talking about concussions is trying to find out what exactly causes them. Many critics believe that the older helmets should be replaced with more updated and sophisticated technology; however, others believe that the main cause of concussions stems from today’s players seemingly getting much bigger and stronger each year which has a direct effect on the speed of the game. Many athletes, including several University of North Park football players, believe that the speed of the game and helmet technology are the two main causes of concussions and that new technology should be developed in order to help reduce the rate of concussions.
Helmet companies have been trying for years to find a way to help reduce the number of concussions that occur each year throughout the game of football. Riddell, the official helmet of...