Millions of Americans love the fall season because it represents the time to watch professional players in the National Football League (NFL) play on Sunday television. Some die-hard fans even attend the stadiums to cheer them on in person. Although fans are aware of the risk of injury each week, they are just recently realizing the brain damage from contact sports like football can cause. A recent class action lawsuit from former professional players who have exhibited symptoms from their concussions years ago received a settlement from the NFL. There is more to be done, however.
Proactive Stance Regarding Head To Head Contact
Several years ago the NFL Commissioner decided to act proactively to help prevent concussions. He reworded rules that forbid players to launch themselves at the head or neck of other players who are in a defenseless stance. If your helmet comes off, that play is considered dead. Also, you have to leave the game and get it secured.
Head Contact Requires Independent Analysis
Another rule to help reduce brain injuries is to leave the game if you experience head contact. Teams must have an independent neurologist working with the team doctor to determine if a concussion has been suffered. There is no more shaking it of and returning to the game right away. It may not be for a quarter or after the half when a player can return after being hit in the head. In some cases they may not be allowed to return at all.
In decades past, many players might see stars or floaters, or even be stunned, but always took it for the team and returned to the game. Quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs all have the ball the most and are at most risk for being slammed to the ground and hitting their heads. It is a part of the way football is played. With modifications and observation, though, the basic tenets of the game are possible while making changes to make it safer. When the NFL realized the effects playing through concussions made on many of its players, it was a public relations nightmare. They had to show the past, current, and future players and fans they cared enough to make changes. There has been some controversy about how long they knew about the effect of concussions, but once it came to light, they had no other choice but to cooperate.
Brain Studies On Former NFL Deceased Players
An autopsy on the brain of former Chicago Bears Safety Dave Duerson following his suicide had alarming results. He was suffering from a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This is caused by many blows to the head and is commonly seen in many former NFL football players.
Many experts point to the grueling schedule and increased speed of players in more recent years as an explanation of the increase of this disease. One former player made a simple suggestion to make players complaining of a headache sit out the rest of the game. Then give them a week away from practice
NFL Partners With Corporate Sponsors
Well, despite some of the bad press about brain injuries and suicides in former players, the NFL is still raking in billions from sponsors and fans. It is still a lucrative business venture. General Electric Corporation (GE) has partnered with the league with its Head Health Initiative. This $60 million alliance is designed to study head trauma in an indepth manner. The company Under Armour also joined forces with the group.
The less talked about affect of former NFL head trauma victims is the future pipeline of players coming from Pop Warner football. It takes years to get up to that level. Young players from 3rd to 8th grade suit up in paths and ready themselves for high school and college levels. Most do not move on to college ball, having burned themselves out by that point. However, if parents keep them from the sport and instead place them in other sports, what will the future of college and the NFL look like? Taking a niagen supplement is certainly becoming a more mainstream to help treat the effects of head trauma. If parents feel the fixes are just cosmetic and not serious, the league may find a backlash of a different sort. Only time will tell. In the meantime most of us will keep watching the pros on Sundays.