Brain Injury Lawsuits: Will They Doom or Save the NFL?
110 million Americans settled down to watch the 47th Super Bowl last February, making it one of the most popular sports in the US. However, ex-players have been pointing a finger at the NFL and accusing them of causing degenerative brain conditions, due to repeated instances of serious concussion on the pitch. Even President Obama has expressed concerns for the sport, saying that if he had a son, he would think twice about letting him play American Football.
In 1904, before the NFL was created, no less than 18 college football players died from head injuries. Rules changed. Protective equipment improved. But it just goes to show how brutal this game can be.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, threw in the towel after experiencing 20 concussions. Philadelphia Eagles passer, Jon Jaworski, said he’d suffered no less than 30.
A concussion occurs when the brain crashes into the skull, so it doesn’t necessarily require a direct hit to the head. Symptoms of concussion include losing consciousness, problems with vision, confusion, and nausea. According to research, conducted by the American Academy of Neurology, 51% of players had been knocked unconscious on more than one occasion and 31% had trouble with their memory.
Surely this highlights the fact that American football is dangerous for its players – of course, anyone who watched a game would be able to tell you that (and without a scientific study to boot). But the vast majority of American football’s appeal comes from its inherent violence. Will American football go the same way as boxing and watch its many fans leave the stadiums, if the brutality is turned down?
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a disease that is caused by the repeated jostling of the brain against the skull. It can affect your memory and emotional state, as well as cause dementia and death. Symptoms are similar to those who experience Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Many ex-players, who have either died or killed themselves because of CTE, have families who are trying to take legal action against the NFL.
After neurosurgeons continued to unearth evidence that football players were developing severe disorders, the NFL began a programme that awarded $88,000 a year to any players who required institutionalisation because of their brain injuries.
The NFL is now pouring money into medical research and charitable donations, to stem the tide of vitriol. Some people are likening American football to smoking and that the NFL, like tobacco companies, is trying to play down the health risks of this contact sport.
Although dropping unconscious on numerous occasions is concerning, neuroscientists are warning that football causes ‘subconcussive’ effects, and that these can also lead to CTE with time. With this awareness, is this the end of American football or will the NFL succeed in taking the proper precautions to protect players? Only time will tell, but given the prevalent culture and popularity of the sport, it’s unlikely to go away soon.
Composed for Barlow Robbins, brain injury solicitors who have many years experience dealing with brain trauma. Their brain injury page, includes references to leading solicitors and additional supportive information for help on the matter.