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September 28, 2016

Former Players Sue NFL Over Concussions: Does it Matter?

In a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania federal court, over eighty lawsuits against the National Football League were combined into one lawsuit over concussions.

The lawsuit represents over two thousand former NFL players who have issue with the league’s policies. The lawsuit claims that the league did not take into account the potential problems associated with the game that players could sustain. The concern of the lawsuit is brain problems, mainly concussions. The lawsuit also claims that the league officials intentionally did not tell players about the risks.

Those suing the NFL believe the league should take more responsibility in helping former players after retirement. Many players struggle with health problems in their years after retirement. Many of the problems these men deal with are brain and concussion related.

NFL Lashes Back

Brian McCarthy, the spokesman of the NFL, said that the league is aware of the combining of the lawsuits. He says that the NFL has always done its best to ensure the safety of players and that the claim that the league officials kept information from players about potential risks is simply untrue.

It is possible that players did not know the risks they truly faced though. Often times young men will disregard information about health risks deep into the future while they are still in their early 20’s. After all, how many people do you know that are worried about their health when they will be 55 while they are still 22?

Hard Hits

Many who are concerned with concussions in the NFL point to the hard hits dished out by explosive defensive players. In the recent death of legendary NFL superstar Junior Seau, many have pointed to concussions leading to the depression that eventually caused Seau to take his own life.

It should come as no surprise that when a 220-pound man runs at full speed and launches himself at another man, injuries are not just possible, but fairly likely. It should also come as no surprise that many NFL stars often do not become cautious when they are hurt. Players are known to play injured and to often not report injuries. It should not be discounted that many players are likely to continue playing despite a concussion.

Concussions in other sports

Concussions are not just a problem in the NFL. Admittedly, concussions are more common in the NFL than any other sport, but they are evident in other sports.

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL is arguably the best player to take to the ice rink since Wayne Gretzky. In January of 2011, Crosby suffered two concussions in less than one week and ended up missing most of the next year. It was not until the end of this previous season that Crosby returned full time. That is over a year of not being completely back and he is still playing with great caution.

Concussions are less common in the NBA and MLB, but they do happen in basketball and baseball as well.

Pro Wrestling

About 5 years ago, the Chris Benoit double-murder-suicide occurred. This spurred great discussion of concussions in professional wrestling. Benoit was reported to have the brain of an 80-year-old despite being only 40 years of age himself.

Since then, the WWE, Vince McMahon, and all of professional wrestling have been under the microscope for concussions. The WWE has even went so far as to ban specific moves and strikes that put wrestlers at a higher risk for concussions.

The future

How will the lawsuit and all the talk about concussions affect the future of sports and the NFL? It won’t change things much, if at all.

The truth of the matter is it doesn’t take a genius to realize if you play football, hockey, wrestle, or anything of the sort where you are in strong physical contact at a high speed, then you are at risk for injury. Few people enter any level of football or other sports without realizing that injuries are very likely.

Should the NFL and other pro sports leagues and companies provide former employees and athletes with, at the very least, health care after retirement? Yes. The idea of taking care of the men and women who helped bring you to the success you enjoy today is not a bad idea.

The details of the lawsuit are debatable, but the impact could be anywhere from huge to nonexistent.

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