DRAME: NFL is “waking up” about CTE

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I’ll be honest, reading about lawsuits and the National Football League and everything in between makes my head hurt.

The details, background and jargon behind the concussion lawsuit brought about by former players against the NFL gives my brain a bit more than it can handle. The way football organizations differ on handling players with concussions (a la the Panthers with Luke Kuechly and the Bengals with Vontaze Burfict) boggles my mind too. Even with the latest involving deceased players diagnosed with a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has me feeling uneasy.

Speaking of which, a top NFL official recently acknowledged that there may be a connection between football and CTE. The admission came during a round table discussion concerning concussions, hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Jeff Miller, the league’s senior vice president for health and safety, was asked if there is link between playing football and degenerative brains diseases like CTE. He answered that question with a resounding yes. Miller based his answer on research and work done by Dr. Ann McKee, who diagnosed CTE in the brains of over 100 people, including those of 94 former players.

-Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons
-Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en), via Wikimedia Commons

Many people were surprised at this statement as it was the first time that the NFL made an acknowledgement like this. Now that they’ve made their point, I think the league, as a whole, will take more precautions in response. What would those precautions be? Implementing equipment that is more safety-driven is a possibility. Equipment used now is more player-friendly than say even a quarter of a century ago and there is nowhere to go but up. I also think more rule changes concerning tackling and hits would not be out of the question.

Many think that the one NFL officer is just admitting this to try to save his skin, and to avoid getting thrown together with the other CTE naysayers like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Although some NFL officials have their days of being somewhat shady and uncaring, I do believe by this official coming out and saying this that the NFL is “waking up”. I feel like going forward they will take information regarding this seriously, especially at the fact that they’re involved in a law suit surrounding treatment of concussions by former players which could cost them millions of dollars.

Some members of the league fan base would like to enjoy watching the sport with the players’ well-being in mind. And some people catch themselves being guilty of enjoying the sport knowing that players may put themselves at long-term risk. I think the league should take this more seriously in regards to their fan base taking notice and for future fans/players of the sport.

I’m always down for the safety of others. And with what people know now about brain diseases and concussions, the NFL should find it that we aren’t stupid. Everyone knows the risk of the game.

Admitting the links between football and CTE was a huge step for the NFL as opposed to denying it. What they do now with their research is up to them but hopefully in a few years we’ll be glad that they used their heads and had thought long and hard on it.

Disclaimer: The opinions of this author do not reflect those of The Whit.

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