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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Hidden truths silently kill NFL players

Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian
Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian
Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian
Illustration by Alex Bihm/The Collegian

Big hits were the name of the game, and the NFL knew it.

People watch football for many reasons, but one reason all fans have in common is the big hit. That is until recent suicides by former NFL superstars and information on the long-term effects of concussions and head trauma from playing football began to surface.

It has become clear the NFL has known for quite some time the hits fans foam at the mouth for and players are paid millions for can have devastating long-term effects on these men and said nothing.

On May 2, 2012, former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau shot himself in his home.

Eight months later, scientists who examined his brain announced they had found chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

More than a year earlier, former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson shot himself after texting his wife to tell her to have his brain examined.

Both of these men shot themselves in the chest rather than the head, leaving their brains for science. Both were found to have CTE. Family and friends of both also reported sudden and dramatic changes in behavior leading up to the suicides, including depression.

CTE is a degenerative disease normally found in athletes who’ve received consistent blows to the head.

Symptoms of the disease include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression and depression.

Over the years, the NFL has transformed from slightly above-average-size males who were physically fit to a league of supersized giants.

ESPN reported the difference in how NFL players looked in the ’70s compared to how the players look now. The average defensive player’s weight would range from 240-265 pounds whereas today players’ weight ranges from 318-344 pounds.

The growth in weight means players hit harder — causing brain trauma to occur by the number of concussions and hard hits.

According to an ABC News article, the levels of training have intensified over the years and the players create more force, power and speed than ever before.

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was warned about the situation in the ’90s yet chalked the warnings up to being nothing more than a few rogue doctors trying to deface the NFL, according to the Frontline documentary League of Denial.

At the same time, NFL marketing campaigns glorified the violent collisions and made billions without warning players of the consequences.

The NFL, under commissioner Roger Goodell, has tried to save face but only after it had no choice once everything came out into the open. The league recently settled out of court for $765 million plus legal costs with more than 4,800 former NFL players.

This is a drop in the pan of the NFL’s reported $9.5 billion-a-year income. Not only that, the terms are simply ridiculous. According to the Associated Press, the NFL will pay out the money but admits no wrongdoing. One of the principal terms of the settlement is that the agreement “cannot be considered an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.”

For lifelong football fans, this is a tough pill to swallow, but it’s apparent the NFL cares more about its image than the players who drive the machine that is the NFL. That is simply appalling.

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