NFL linked to Deaths

footballBy Rachel Jones

A player gets injured during a practice or a game, not unheard of right? What if that concussion s/he sustained led to a life time medical disease that could possibly take your life? That is the lawsuit the National Football League (NFL) is currently facing, along with the repercussions. It may be common knowledge that injuries can happen at any time in your life but shouldn’t the organization that employs you, be upfront about the possible life injuries a player could receive during their employment? Withholding this important information and statistics, forced a $765 million settlement out of the NFL. Many of the NFL current and former players are coming forth about their conditions like Brett Favre who cannot remember his daughter playing a summer of soccer. The cause of the settlement is because the NFL hid the effects that can come with countless concussions over time, leading to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Only problem is, the diagnosis for this disease is a brain autopsy after death. Is it then fair to hold the NFL accountable for not giving statistics about CTE and its possibilities or are they right in with holding this information, the settlement speaks for itself. Even though CTE is diagnosed after death, with the millions of dollars the NFL pays the players, they should be dishing out money to make sure they are screened and are fully capable of playing another game after a concussion or any other injury has fully healed.

Not only is the NFL facing the repercussions of the settlement that took place earlier this year in August, they are now having to face viewers of PBS Frontline’s League of Denial, a documentary about the concussion crisis. Starting off this documentary, the focus was on Mike Webster, former Steelers offensive lineman. His brain was the one to be credited to show the damage it can receive over time through playing football. Dr. Bennett Omalu looked at his brain and preserved it, then saying, “If I had not been told his age I would have thought he was 70”. Webster was 50 at the time of his death after suffering from symptoms no one understood. Following Webster’s story the focus then shifts to how the NFL tried to destroy Omalu’s career because he was attempting to bring light on a series and dangerous topic. The fact that the NFL is trying to meet in secret with doctors to try and sway their findings is a sickening one.

There are claims against doctors as well saying that they are able to find something specific if they are looking for it. That’s the claim against Ann McKee in her findings of relating CTE to football damage. While it is said that people see what they want, there’s no way to find CTE damage just because they’re looking for it. The direct link between football and CTE has not fully been diagnosed but there’s no doubting that it’s there if so many former players have been diagnosed with it after death. McKee has been the examiner of 46 ex-NFL players who have been found to have CTE in 45 of them. It’s obvious that there’s a link with receiving and giving so many hits in the game and brain damage. Given that no one ever wants to see a loved one suffering from brain damage, Webster’s body was on display during the documentary for everyone to see. It obviously was an appeal to not only the mind but the heart as well.

What does this mean for the future of football in America? Colleges might start to find they are taking the hit as well. The NFL is taking the heat and these findings are freaking its players out with the possibility of brain damage doing something they love. No matter what studies come out, nothing will turn potential and current players away from the game. They knew what they were getting into from the start, it’s obvious that taking those kinds of hits, there’s bound to be some type of damage to your body. The NFL does not have the right to keep important information like this from its employees but to what extent do they have to give all the information that they did find out? With this new finding and it being researched even more today, the NFL is going to have to face the facts sooner or later. Being a fan, I hate seeing when players are out for a game or possibly the season but if it helps them to recover faster and better, its what’s best for them.

Where does the line get drawn for safety for its players when the employers aren’t upfront with the possibilities of injuries and even life threatening injuries? While it may be common knowledge that injuries happen every day no matter what your profession is, when it comes to safety and recovery time, the NFL has it wrong. Having so many former players either commit suicide or suffer from one of the symptoms of CTE, it’s obvious that something needs to change in this game. Whether it be how they determine recovery time or possibly having to change some rules of the game because players now are bigger and faster and they are delivering harder hits. The amount of hits a player receives during a game is determined by which position he’s in. A player could suffer from nothing but receiving hits during a game while another might only take half of that. Which player, if you didn’t know about CTE would you think could be susceptible to a possible brain injury? The one with the most hits. Again though it does depend on where you get hit and how hard you get hit, Favre’s was a quarterback but now he suffers from memory loss, which unfortunately is a symptom of CTE.

By hiding information and trying to cover up findings, the NFL is digging itself into an even deeper hole after the settlement this past summer. While there is not solid proof that concussions lead to CTE and that playing football is what is causing it in this men, the NFL shouldn’t have to try and hide this information if there is no solid proof to back it up. Injuries happen daily and we can’t prevent them but if the NFL could prevent CTE even in the slightest by informing itself players of the possibility, there wouldn’t be such an uproar about it. While the settlement money the NFL had to pay out seems like a lot, that money is being stretched across thousands of players who probably would get only about a million dollars. To us it seems like a lot but you have to remember these players are getting paid millions of dollars per season, this money makes no dent in the pain and suffering they have to go through. It won’t pay for the medical bills they acquire in their life so to me, its pointless. Instead of having to pay settlement money, they could use that money to fund the players to have tests done throughout their seasons to determine if they are still eligible to play without suffering permeant brain damage. Thus hopefully lessening players that develop CTE since they will be more closely monitored during their active seasons.


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