NFL Head Injuries Essay

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, results from a blow to the head (“NFL Head Injuries”). The concussion epidemic, an ever rising problem in sports today, has become very prominent, especially in the NFL. With the new research that has surfaced in the last couple years, the NFL has received grief for not doing enough about concussions and their risks after the fact. The NFL has not done enough on the topic of concussions considering the fact that the league still continues to face problems.

The NFL has continued to remain under fire, in the recent ears especially, with problems regarding concussions. In July 2009, researchers published findings that suggested a causal link between head injuries sustained while playing football and a degenerative brain disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy otherwise known as CTE (“NFL Head Injuries”). CTE, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain, causes the brain to increasingly deteriorate over time. CTE has led to multiple counts of player suicides and other symptoms after retiring from the NFL such as: memory loss, dementia, and depression.

When the brains of multiple retired NFL players ere examined, scientists revealed that CTE impairs the overall judgment and mental function of an individual. Scientists also noticed that CTE lead to drug addiction and in some cases, suicidal depression. The NFL is more or less for entertainment for spectators in the United States and even the world, but is it all worth the risks of concussions? Furthermore, individuals believe that creating new rules to try and cut back on the number of concussions will damage the game and make it less entertaining for viewers.

This shouldn’t even be a problem for the NFL due to the fact that the lives and well-being of their layers should be more important than that of their viewers. The NFL has taken some measures to try and limit the number of concussions among players. The NFL has implemented new equipment, such as upgraded helmets with new padding that is supposed to pin-point the area that is most susceptible to concussions. They have also implemented new rules such as the return-to-play rule.

The return-to-play rule states that if a player is removed from play with suspicion of a concussion that play cannot return to play until he is fully asymptomatic. Another thing the NFL has done is having “concussion spotters” on the idelines of every game. Their job is to look out for players that have gotten hit and may have suffered a concussion. A new rule is that the spotters are allowed to stop the game if needed to observe the player. Some rules occurred after the fact, such as on October 17th three NFL players sustained concussions so brutal that even “hard-boiled” game announcers were shocked.

In the days after the incident the NFL fined three players that made the hits, a total of $175,000 for what the NFL said were illegal hits to the head even though no penalties were called when they play occurred (“Tackling the Concussion Issue”). After that set of concussions, the NFL said they would begin suspending players for helmet-to-helmet contact. On another note, the day before these incidents a Rutgers University football player became paralyzed from the neck down after trying to make a routine tackle against the Army football team.

The NFL needs to realize that if they don’t make changes about concussions the problems they have will trickle all the way down and effect lower levels of football. The NFL needs to set the standard with the rule changes so other football organizations will follow. The effects of concussions are not relevant only while an ndividual is participating in the NFL, it also carries over into their retirement and still affects their lives. Every one of those concussions doesn’t just affect the players while playing, they have long term effects on the players also.

In February 2011, Dave Duerson, a former NFL safety, aged 50, shot himself in the chest after suffering depression and other serious issues. In a dramatic suicide text message he asked that his brain be sent to Boston University and studied for evidence of chronic neurodegenerative damage or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, thought to be caused by years of concussive mpact to the brain. At autopsy it was indeed found that he did suffer from such neurodegenerative disease” (Engelland 25).

Though Deurson was not the first NFL player to display worrisome symptoms of brain damage, his story helped bring the years of brain damaging play into the light. Two years later another NFL player, New England linebacker Junior Seau, also committed suicide. After a team of researchers analyzed his brain tissue, they uncovered that he suffered from CTE most likely due to two decades of impact on his head. This daunting side-effect of concussions hasn’t been just a problem of the past. Last year, in 2015, Tyler Sash, an NFL safety for the New York Giants, died of an accidental overdose of mixing two pain medications.

After an autopsy was done at the University of Boston researchers had discovered that Sash had an advanced degree of CTE, which is rarely seen in someone of his age. The NFL needs to know that concussions don’t just impact the players on the field, concussions impact the individual off the field and in their personal lives. They need to take more steps to help players who have suffered from concussions and CTE after their playing time is over and not forget about them once they re done in the NFL.

Though the NFL has done things to try and limit the amount of concussions, they still have not done enough for the problem. The league needs to be more concerned with player safety, and to institute rule changes that will diminish head injuries. Unsafe practices occurring in the NFL will inevitably be emulated by college, high school, and younger players (“NFL Head Injuries”). According to a study done by Frontline named “Concussion Watch”, a staggering 645 concussions have been reported in the NFL between 2012 and 2015. The most, 199, occurring in the most recent 2015 season.

The NFL has taken steps in the last four years, yet the most recent year accounted for the most concussions sustained. Acknowledging that you can’t “put a bubble around young people playing football,” Smith says you can still “teach them how to hit [safely), and you can consider using more advanced helmets. Some football players have helmets equipped with accelerometers, which measure the rate the head is moving. If somebody has a peak head acceleration during play at levels known to induce concussion, they can be brought out of the game. These and additional prevention and reatment techniques are coming on line.

But it’s happening slowly” (“Tackling the Concussion Issue”). As read in the preceding excerpt Douglas H. Smith, a director at the University of Pennsylvania, stated that though the NFL is making changes they are happening at too slow of a rate. The amount of concussions reported between 2012 and 2016 totaled 645. This means that if it would take ten years to develop a new piece of equipment to help reduce concussions, about 1612 concussions would occur in that amount of time. This means there can be a potential of 1612 athletes with an increased risk of CTE.

The NFL an say they are working on new products to prevent concussions, however they are coming at such a slow rate that the players are still in danger. On October 17th DeSean Jackson, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, became unconscious after being hit while wearing a new helmet that was designed to absorb on-field impacts. Though at a slow rate, the equipment coming into the NFL to help reduce concussions is still not unquestionably concussion proof. They can’t focus all their attention on equipment, they need to come up with new rules and guidelines to limit the amount of concussions suffered by heir players.

Concussions will always be a problem in the sports world, especially in football, although there are measures the NFL can take to limit the amount players suffer. No piece of equipment can undoubtedly prevent concussions, the NFL needs to find ways other than equipment to try an reduce the amount of concussions. The NFL needs to do more in regards to athlete safety and the athlete’s health during their time in the NFL and after their time in the NFL. People need to realize concussions don’t just affect an athlete’s playing time it impacts their lives.