Due to the violent nature of the NFL, players are frequently faced with injuries and conditions that outlast their playing careers. In fact, these injuries often remain a problem in some degree for the rest of the athlete’s life. Among the most serious are the cases in which a player suffered a concussion or other brain damage during his career.
The gross reality of the situation is that in a contact game like football, concussions and head trauma injuries are going to happen. What the organization does about these will help us to see what they value. A violent, exciting game will keep fans interested, but will also lead to more suffering by the players. When hundreds, and eventually thousands, of players start complaining about eventual suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and more, something has to change. These conditions can all be caused by head trauma, the same kind that so many NFL athletes experience.
There has recently been an influx of players expressing their desire to fault the organization that has allowed them to suffer through these head-trauma injuries. According to an AP review, 80+ different lawsuits, whose plaintiffs include over 2000 former NFL players, have been filed against the NFL in the past year. These have been consolidated into one master case, which is now something that the NFL will undoubtedly have to direct attention to. This case claims that the NFL glorifies and encourages violence through media as well as hiding information that would later link football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.
There is current speculation that the NFL will attempt to dismiss this case by way of “pre-emption”, essentially meaning that it covers issues already agreed upon in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The league has also previously denied culpability and has tried to ensure that it does everything in its power to keep the players safe. If it is decided that the lawsuit will go to court, I can only imagine that there is a long and messy road ahead for both the NFL and the plaintiffs involved. In the past couple of weeks, even more athletes have decided to join the lawsuit and it seems that the list will continue to grow.
The goal of this lawsuit is to further research the connection between football and brain injury, and hopefully find a way for the NFL to compensate the affected parties for their exorbitant medical fees. While the compensation is important, it might be even more important that the NFL realizes the severity of the situation. Maybe then it would be able to make changes and move forward as a league that not only encourages an exciting, competitive game, but also one that takes care of its players and closely monitors their health. While no one can be sure how the lawsuit will turn out, it will definitely encourage the league to think even more about player safety and hopefully lead to a safer game for all parties involved.
This post is brought to you by Laura B. (@laurabesh)____
Laura is a senior at the University of St. Thomas, majoring in Communications and Journalism with a focus in Public Relations. She enjoys football, sushi, Starbucks and football. Laura says, “I am intrigued and driven by the connection between fans and the sports teams that they love. I laugh loud and often, usually uncontrollably.”