For more than a decade, concussions have been an issue in sports. Conversations about concussions in football, from little league all the way to the professional level, have been held about whether football is a safe sport to play anymore. The NFL has begrudgingly worked with scientists for years trying to create solutions to limit the risk of players suffering head injuries, but the process is far too complex to educate players and the league about just one aspect of concussions. The NFL prides itself on producing some of the world’s greatest athletes. What fans fail to realize is the extent of danger these athletes put themselves into each time they are on the practice and game field.
Multiple head injuries to players have had long-term consequences, such as depression, impulse control problems, motor control issues and behavioral changes. On July 25, 2017, a study identified Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or as it’s commonly known, CTE, in 110 out of 111 brains of deceased NFL players’ that were donated to scientists for research. Research studies like this raise questions of how effective the NFL’s concussion protocol really is.
In 2013, former Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah gave an interview to SB Nation where he confessed to receiving insufficient treatment for concussions he suffered throughout his career. He claimed that doctors covered up his concussions and as a result he struggled with suicidal thoughts.
Due to the NFL’s recent negligence towards concussion protocol, on June 7, 2012, a unified lawsuit combining more than 80 concussion related lawsuits on behalf of 2,000 NFL players was filed in federal court. Three months later, the NFL committed to donating $30 million in support to research on medical conditions prominent to athletes towards the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
Even though the NFL is making strides toward working with science on medical conditions in athletes, it still does not solve the wide range of problems that concussions have on athletes throughout their careers. And it can be life threatening. The research on concussions and their consequences is promising, but it’s just begun. The process to overcome the short and long term effects of brain injuries still requires much needed research and proper adoption from NFL medical staffs.