nfl concussion article picture

ByJENNA ROSENTHAL

Concussions have been receiving an increase in awareness over time, and now they are being discussed more than ever. According to CNN.com, the National Football League was recently sued by a large group of players and their families, who claim that the NFL misinformed the public and the players about the correlation between concussions and long term brain damage so the players would not realize the extent of the risks they were taking during each game.

According to chicagotribune.com, scientists found evidence of a chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease, in past football players. Concussions from repeated head trauma can cause this disease, which leads to aggression and dementia. CNN.com discusses how football player Shane Dronett committed suicide in 2009 at the age of 38, and some claim that his actions resulted from his head injuries during his career with the NFL At least 36 athletes were diagnosed with CTE after their death and families of athletes are becoming increasingly concerned about the effects of concussions.

According to nfl.com, about 4,500 former players sued the league, accusing the NFL of “concealing the dangers of concussions and rushing injured players back onto the field,” spreading false information through their Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee and deliberately ignoring scientific facts about concussion risks. According to the court report, The NFL denied the accusations but agreed to pay $765 million to “fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families, and litigation expenses” before the trial even occurred.

It is difficult to prove whether or not the NFL did or did not know about risks of concussions and they are unlikely to be forced to disclose this information because of the agreement reached. According to nytimes.com, the NFL can avoid this legal liability because they have agreed to provide retired players with money and medical treatment without the players having to prove that their brain disorder was a result of football injuries.

Although the evidence seemed piled high against the NFL, they recently have begun implementing stronger rules and more medical staff to increase safety. Out of the total settlement cost, $10 million of the settlement is to go to research programs. Some players do not think the settlement is enough, and may opt out and sue the NFL on their own. Others care less about the money, and more about increasing awareness about the long term effects of concussions.  Former player Jamal Anderson said that it is of utmost importance “to bring attention to the plight of thousands of players and the importance of taking concussion and head trauma seriously.”

Concussions are not only a risk in professional sports, but also in high school. Senior Tori Schmehl suffered a concussion and was very positive about how Stuart managed the situation. She said, “I got a concussion from field hockey. The school and trainers were on top of it and monitored how I was doing when I returned to sports.” Junior Mikey Bickerton said, “I have had eight concussions, five of them from football.  I got my latest concussion when I jumped straight now, which is not proper tackling.”  When asked about the school’s response and safety, Bickerton said, “Really well. Berg [athletic trainer] keeps you out for as long as possible.”  He also mentioned the football coaches’ safe practices to avoid concussions.  He said, “This past year you have to go through 14 minutes of ‘heads up tackling’.”  

Unfortunately, concussions are still a prevalent and dangerous part of both professional and high school sports. Whether the accusations regarding the NFL are true or not, they are moving forward with concussion research and awareness and will hopefully prevent situations like this in the future.