Concussions and the NFL
The NFL paid out $760 million dollars to nearly 4,500 former players for failing to reveal the long-term affects of concussions and pushing injured players back out on the field. Some of these players suffer from Alzheimer’s or depression. Others are dead.
While some questioned the size of the sum due to the amount of recipients, another issue presents itself. Do NFL players assume the risk when they take the field, or is it the responsibility of the NFL to take care of these players later on in life when problems arise?
Football is arguably the most violent professional sport in America. Every time these players suit up, they risk injury. Some more so than others. By week two of the 2013 pre-season, 55 players had already suffered season ending injuries. In 2012, players incurred nearly 1,500 severe injuries, measured by missing at least eight days or requiring surgery.
The Lingering Effects
Concussions are a serious issue. They can lead to depression, Alzheimer’s, and other brain disorders later on in life. Last season alone, there were 265 concussions. In 2011 there were 266, and in 2010 there were 270. Is it fair to hold the NFL responsible?
The fact of the matter is, these players choose to play the game. Nearly all of them have worked their whole lives to get to play at this level. Thousands of others had the same dreams but didn’t succeed. Those players would do anything for a chance to play on Sundays. Not only are they fulfilling a lifelong goal, they’re playing for big bucks. Some earn over $20 million per season. Others not so much, but the league minimum is still over $400,000. These guys have a chance to make an amount of money in a few years that takes many people might not ever see in a lifetime.
League and Player Accountability
This is a very serious matter and one the NFL needs to address. Policies should be implemented to limit damage, but shouldn’t be responsible for what happens to players after football. No one forces these guys to take the football field. Most have college degrees and could put them to good use if they so chose.
That’s not an option for a lot of these players. They play the game because they love it. It’s a lifelong dream and they’re able to make a generous salary while doing so. It’s an honor to play in the NFL and they wouldn’t want it any other way. When these athletes get out on the field they know exactly what they’re signing up for. It wouldn’t be fair to hold the NFL responsible for the decisions that they made.