Last night I watched a PBS documentary titled League of Denial: The NFL Concussion Crisis. The show is a must for all fans of football. We as fans should not look away from the medical facts about concussions and the possibility of long-term brain injuries.
I won't try to preach for or against on how the NFL is handling the concussion crisis, but I am rethinking my views on kids playing the game. What got me about the documentary is that the NFL has been researching the effects of concussions on players since 1994, and are still saying they do not have enough information to determine if concussions are causing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in football players.
The show compares the NFL's response to the issue with the denials that the tobacco industry gave when they were called on the carpet about the adverse health effects of cigarette smoking on the body. The NFL is finally addressing concussions in the game, but still claiming they need more data.
Former NFL players are suffering from memory loss and other brain related diseases that may or may not be caused by all the hits to the head they incurred while playing the game they loved. We fans may not like some of the new NFL rules put in place to protect the players, but once we accept that former players and their families lives are being affected possibly by vicious hits taken when they played the game, we might welcome those rules. Because when it comes right down to it, football is a game. And if nothing else, the men who choose to play this game have a right to know all the medical risks they're taking should they decide to play the game.
As shocked as I was after hearing about former player Junior Seau's suicide, this documentary about the brain disease that may have attributed to Seau's death leaves me speechless. Seeing Seau's childrens' tears when talking about their dad's demise and death drives the issue home. Does playing football cause brain disease? When 45 of 46 brains of former players autopsied show CTE, I don't see how it cannot!
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