Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Concussions In Football

Last night the CBS Evening News ran a story on four thousand former NFL players and their surviving family members about suing the NFL owners for their lack of knowledge, sharing of information and general lack of interest in the health of their players and former players. The focus was on concussions.

Imagine that, labor suing management over health related issues in the workplace. They discussed several players, their untimely deaths and the preponderance of concussions in the NFL going back decades. If you saw the story, I would bet you stopped to ask yourself, "I wonder if that is why I continue to get these migraine headaches now I am in my 40s?" That is, if you played football starting before you could read, up to junior high, high school, college or even professional football.

When the issue of what is commonly referred to as concussion syndrome has started to raise its ugly head in these last few years, it has forced all of us who ever had anything to do with football to stop and question the validity of the issue.

I am pretty sure I suffered a concussion when my head hit the ground after my accident. I do not remember if any attention would have been paid to a concussion while I was in Sioux Falls since there were more pressing issues we were dealing with.

In doing some research for this post, I came across an article from Business Week.com about Junior Seau, the former standout linebacker for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots. Seau committed suicide in May 2012. He was not alone in former NFL players who have killed themselves as they suffered from brain injuries many people are wondering if they  were linked to their on-field hits over long careers.

In the CBS piece, one of the players who has passed away from dementia and had a long career as an NFL lineman showed a brain the size of a child.

Gregg Dovel of CBSSports.com paints and even grimmer picture for what is happening to the lifespan of NFL players. You can read his article by clicking here. His article appeared December 23, 2010; well before all of the concussion syndrome discussion had started. If this link does not open, cleck on this URL: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/14477196/nfl-is-killing-its-players-and-league-doesnt-care

The fact remains, young boys and girls are playing football at an early age in equipment that may not be adequate to protect their young and growing brains. We are learning so much about the human brain these days, it puts research that may have been done even today in the dark ages, figuratively speaking.

Jarrett Bell of USA Today.com claims in an article updated May 9, 2012 just the opposite.  He concludes NFL players live longer lives than the average person. You may read his article by clicking here. Several former players dispute his results. If that link does not take you there, try clicking here: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/story/2012-05-08/Study-shows-NFL-players-live-longer/54847564/1

I loved playing football. I made lifelong friends playing football, basketball, baseball, track and every other activity I took part in before my accident. I do not regret playing football, I regret every day of my life getting hurt playing football!

The game is changing. The players are getting bigger, stronger, faster and the equipment is not keeping up. Changes are made in the rules all the time to protect the players and make it a safer game. That does not mean you cannot get hurt playing football. It simply means the odds are cut down some when the equipment is safer.

About every adult I know who played football while they were younger has a football injury of some sort. I believe most of them would tell you the same thing I did about how they enjoyed playing football. Once it was not fun anymore, they stopped playing.

Some of us just stopped our careers before we planned to call it quits.

I look forward to your comments.




Elliot Francke said...

Of course, every physical contact sport carries risks of injury, and it takes years to decades to unveil the long-term risks. And, of course, if you have a financial and personal stake in the activity, it is in your interest to suppress such effects. Consider, for example, boxing. Therefore, you must ask yourself, is it possible to design protective rules and equipment to minimize the risk, or is the activity worth the risk at all? Law firms advertise for clients who suffer the anticipated side effects of any medical treatment, regardless of the potential or actual benefits. As a society, we tolerate no such imperfections. Should we tolerate any level of imperfection in athletics, or would that be too much coddling? You decide.
Elliot Francke, M.D.

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Steve Phillips said...

Great post Mike,

This issue has me torn. I know how serious they can be and think we need to be more protective.

Hearing and reading your story changed and influenced my opinions.


Ruona said...

Good one Fat Cat. The older I get the more my body is aching from past sports injuries. Glad I didn't have a concussion.


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