Posted: March 18th, 2023
productions absolutely change the way that the author of this response looks at the league. The league and its leaders (which would obviously include Tagliabue and Goodell) certainly knew about the dangers of football including the risks of things like concussions, dementia (including early-onset dementia) and CTE. That being said, to completely lay this at the feet of the NFL is less than fair. Anyone with an active brain stem should know that colliding with other bodies and the turf in such a violent and sustained way.
It is nearly (but not quite) akin to those that abuse alcohol or cigarettes and then they get incredulous when their liver or lungs start to shut down or develop cancer. Further, the question has to become is there a way to prevent this trauma outright and the answer is probably “no” short of ending the league and its games entirely. In the end, football may have to be treated like combat sports (e.g. UFC, boxing, etc.) whereby all players who enter the league must sign a hold harmless waiver that absolves the league of any responsibility because the player is voluntarily choosing to take the risk. Even if that were to happen (unlikely), the ethics involved in effectively turning football players into a lesser form of gladiators that are disposable and just pieces of meat that batter themselves senseless for our enjoyment are tawdry to say the least.
The author of this report does believe the authors were a bit one-sided. They did play fair on many points. However, it is noted above and should be repeated that these players are playing of their own choice and volition and any reasonable person should know and understand that playing contact sports can be harmful. The sportscaster aspersion is pretty out of line, though. There are sportscasters in every sport and this includes combat sports, non-combat sports, contact sports and non-contact sports. The arguments being made about the NFL and college football could be made about rugby and boxing, just to name two, and that is really not happening. The fact that the NFL is being singled out is a little peculiar.
Just to single out boxing, many more people have probably died in the boxing ring (or shortly thereafter) than have died on the field. The literal objective of boxing is to punch your opponent until they fall over and cannot get up. There is an element of that in football but that is far from being the object of the game. MMA organizations (e.g. UFC, Bellator, etc.) are even worse since those sports include other offensive methods beyond boxing including submissions, chokes, kicks (including to the head), elbows and so forth. In short, the two big flaws with people glomming onto and attacking the NFL is that they are not the only sport that should be scrutinized if the NFL is deemed to be culpable and the sportscasters are just doing their job. The NFL, in the eyes of many, is the real American pastime nowadays … even more than baseball. Even so, there are sportscasters in all sports. If the NFL sportscasters should get hell, then so should Joe Rogan, color commentator for the UFC. The author of this response is not advocating that … but it would make sense given what is being said of NFL broadcasters.
No … not really. The NFL has already basically been convicted and anything that they say is going to be twisted and exploited by an “if it bleeds, it leads” media frenzy. The NFL is damned if they do and damned if they don’t and the risks are lesser if they keep their mouth shut. Obviously, they will have to say something if/when they are brought into a court of law. However, they are under no legal compulsion to say something right now but they could absolutely be held accountable for what they’ve done internally and the media does have a right to frame their arguments and takes in absence of those statements.
However, those stories and assertions are actively ignoring some rather important details and comparisons as noted in the prior two questions. As noted above, the NFL is not forcing anyone to play football and it’s not beyond the pale to know in advance that playing the sport (especially at the professional level)
There is enough evidence that it CAN lead to brain injury for some people … but not all. As noted in the question, every body and brain is different. Just like the fact that some people can smoke like fire and drink like a fish and not get any bad results for it, other people get cancer, their liver fails or they otherwise end up dying because of their habits. The NFL denying a linkage is obviously folly because there is no realistic doubt that there is not a link between the action on the field and the head injuries/disorders that ensue later on. Junior Seau and others have all shown evidence of brain trauma and the associated disorders as a result of playing football (Fainaru-Wade).
Even with that being the case, the NFL playing coy right now does not address the main dilemma. There is not a way to make the sport safe. Even if better helmets are made and the rules are changed, there are still going to be hard hits and injuries. Beyond that, there are football fans that crave that sort of action much like they tend to go to hockey games to watch the fights and car races to see the crashes. As it relates to the latter, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (among others) are dead today because of those crashes. There is indeed a gladiator-esque vibe to football and it emanates from both the league’s manner of play and some (but not all) of the fans that watch the sport. The only completely safe way to proceed is to end the sport. The author of this response is going to go out on a not-so-thin limb and say that this will not happen. There is too much money involved and the fans will revolt if that occurs. As such, informed consent is really the only viable option.
Fainaru-Wade, Mark. “Doctors: Seau’s Brain Tests Positive For CTE.” ESPN.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
IMDB. “Frontline” League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis (TV Episode 2013).” IMDb. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
IMDB. “Concussion (2015).” IMDb. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.
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