COLUMN: NFL's brain injuries cannot be worth it


Reporters, photographers and broadcasters swarm around the podium of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning Jan. 28, 2014, during the Super Bowl 48 Media day at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.   Tribune News Service

The Super Bowl is one of the most televised events in the United States every year, which shows just how much Americans love their football despite the issues it may cause to its players. 

When watching football, it’s easy to forget that there are actual people under those helmets experiencing each blow, one by one.

It’s no secret that the sport of football comes with a chance of injury, but we aren't taking it as seriously as we should.

Many athletes are suffering from the brain injury Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The person doesn’t start showing symptoms until sometimes years after he or she is done playing, and it can't be given a complete diagnosis until after the person has already died. 

Doctors started to look into this more because it has started to affect many players. Brain injuries are being seen in more than 40 percent of NFL veteran players, and they are being seen in college football players as well.

Even though this is the case, football fans continue to brush this aside to root for their favorite teams each Sunday. They are forgetting some of those tackles they’re cheering so loud for could be one tackle closer to leaving permanent damages on their favorite player.

Whether it be at the professional or collegiate level, there seems to be no solution in sight. The NFL has acknowledged before that it is aware of the connection between concussions and permanent damage. 

Proof eventually came out that it backed out of a $16 million agreement to perform research, once it realized that funding this research may result in hurting its image significantly. The research then had to be funded by taxpayers. 

Making safer helmets won’t work. So they can try, but as said in an episode of the TV show “Adam Ruins Everything,” that is surrounding the dangers of football, “Unless you can fit a helmet inside your skull, there's no way to stop it,” referring to the damage capable of being done to the skull.

Obviously it's a stretch to say to say the entire sport all together. But could it be that pressures are too high and players are succumbing to what the people want to see? These players are paid millions of dollars, but no dollar amount should be worth losing their memory and their ability to carry out a happy, healthy life. 

It almost seems that by paying them these great amounts, it could potentially make up for the fact that they may live an aggressive, forgetful, anxious life once their football career is over. Many of these players have families and children who are also affected deeply by this. 

In a New York Times article, the wife of a retired NFL player gave insight to the difficulties of living with her husband on a daily basis. It’s heartbreaking to read because it makes you wonder what it was all for in the first place. The money? The fans? It doesn’t seem worth it, and I’m sure once they experience the aftermath, it may not seem worth it to the players and those who love them. 

The NFL has shown in the past that it is obviously worried about its reputation in terms of how people view head injuries. Attempting to reduce funding for research that gives answers to so many families shows that it’s unclear of where exactly its priorities fall. 

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