“More than 100 million people will watch this year’s Super Bowl. If you’re going to be one of them, and you care about the players on the team you’re rooting for, then don’t fall for the fantasy notion that fancy new helmets are going to protect their brains. Instead, support changes to the game that will truly protect players.” ~ Usha Lee McFarling
You knew I wouldn’t let Super Bowl Sunday pass by without my annual reminder that football is a vile, brutal, and unacceptably dangerous game. Also, stupid.
High-Tech Helmets Won’t Solve The NFL’s Concussion Problem
After the number of concussions in the NFL spiked dramatically in 2017, the number during this past season dropped by nearly one-quarter.
My favorite part of this story, written on NFL.com, is that the NFL was “startled” by the spike in concussions in 2017.
Really? That startled you? Because it didn’t surprise any of us regular people who have even the slightest understanding of what happens when your head is slammed into, say, the ground, with the weight of 300-pound lineman on top of you.
The NFL attributes some of the drop in 2018 to “advanced helmets.” And, they may be right, but when your game is still suffering hundreds of concussions each season, I’m pretty sure your “advanced helmets” aren’t advanced enough.
Or, as Pulitzer Pulitizer Prize-winning science writer Usha Lee McFarling wrote in the Los Angeles Times on Friday:
“No helmet, unless one is invented that can be inserted directly into the skull, can prevent concussions.”
Not convincing you? It’s convincing insurers.
For The NFL And All Of Football, A New Threat: An Evaporating Insurance Market
“The NFL no longer has general liability insurance covering head trauma, according to multiple sources; just one carrier is willing to provide workers’ compensation coverage for NFL teams,” according to a new investigation by ESPN.
What? Long-term damage to the brain that concussions cause to players is enough to cancel insurance policies but not enough to make you turn the game off?
Ok. How about this …
For NFL Retirees, Opiods Bring More Pain
“A study published last year in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that 26.2 percent of retired players said they had used prescription opioids within the past 30 days. Nearly half of those players said they did not use them as prescribed,” The New York Times reported yesterday.
The need for painkillers clearly doesn’t necessarily improve when a career ends … injuries can turn into lifelong chronic pain and multiple surgeries, the Times notes, and abuse can often get much worse.
The NFL’s Obesity Scourge
An emphasis on fielding larger and larger players “is a big reason that former linemen, compared with other football players and the general population, have higher rates of hypertension, obesity, and sleep apnea, which can lead to chronic fatigue, poor diet, and even death. Blocking for a $25-million-a-year quarterback, it turns out, can put linemen in the high-risk category for many of the ailments health experts readily encourage people to avoid,” The New York Times reported in January.
Former tackle Vaughn Parker sums it up: “How many 400-pound offensive linemen are walking around in their 50s?”
Do Pro Football Players Have A Higher Risk Of Dying Earlier?
Yes. The answer is yes, and you knew it was yes. Career NFL players had a 38 percent higher risk of dying younger compared with those who played in only a few games, CNN reported last year.
Look, it’s our fault. We’re to blame. As long as we keep watching, players will continue to pay the price.
It’s not worth it to me.
And, seriously … be honest. You don’t want to watch Maroon 5 at halftime. No one does.
Turn it off.