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The NFL has become the business of battered brains. America’s most popular professional sports league and its teams collected 17.19 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. While the NFL claims the safety of its players is a high priority, the league’s concussion protocol is a joke.
Football fans witnessed the grotesque brain injury of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound player’s head hit the ground with so much force that he was incapacitated. The quarterback was carted off the field on a stretcher, but it looked more like a primeval coffin with pallbearers.
Concussions are not your run-of-the-mill sports injuries. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury with serious long-term consequences. Yet, millions of parents are okay with letting their son’s risk injury in pursuit of college scholarships and NFL paydays.
Concussions Lead to Debilitating Brain Disease
It is a fact that concussions lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating brain disease. Symptoms include suicidality, confusion, memory loss, anxiety, depression, paranoia, aggression, and impaired judgment. But it is a risk that football athletes are willing to take for oversized professional contracts.
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was only 27 when he committed suicide. Hernandez was convicted of murder and was in prison at the time of his death. His autopsy revealed he had one of the most significant cases of CTE ever diagnosed for a person his age.
Tragically, Hernandez is not the only former NFL player with CTE who chose to end his own life. 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau was only 43 years old when he shot himself in the chest in 2012. Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher was 25 when he fatally shot his girlfriend in 2012 before driving to the Chiefs’ practice facility and killing himself.
Former San Francisco defensive back Phillip Adams murdered five people in 2021 before taking his own life a few days later. Similar to Hernandez, Seau, and Belcher – Adams suffered from an advanced case of CTE. Unfortunately, these are just a few tragic stories of former players suffering from the lingering side effects of CTE.
Concussion Protocol is a Fraud
The NFL’s concussion protocol is a fraud because it allows players who suffer concussions to return as early as one week. Compared to the rules for mixed martial arts fighters and boxers, the main objective for the NFL seems to help their franchises win games rather than the safety of their injured players.
Participants in MMA and boxing are protected by state laws that govern the sports. Fighters and boxers knocked out in their matches are not allowed to fight again for a minimum of 30 days. If the NFL really cared more about player safety than its bottom line, players who suffer brain injuries would not be competing in such a violent sport just seven days later.
Sadly, the NFL’s greed is not the only problem dealing with concussions and CTE. Players willing to risk their long-term health for the riches that come with playing in America’s top sports league cannot be ignored. And the general public who enjoy watching the brutality of a sport that leaves players battered and with serious injuries every weekend is also culpable.
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