The Hypocritical NFL Concussion Debate

1380735124000-nfl-concussionsLast weekend, before the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton Ohio, there was a big flap over Junior Seau’s posthumous induction into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Seau, a middle linebacker for the SanDiego Chargers, took his life on May 2, 2012 amid speculation that he was troubled by brain damage due to CTE, a condition traced to concussion-related brain damage with depression as a symptom.  After submitting Seau’s brain for study, the family sued the NFL over the brain injuries suffered over his career, claiming that NFL does not provide enough information and protection for its players.

In so many ways, the whole concussion controversy that is currently dogging the NFL is hypocritical all the way round. Let’s face it. Football is an incredibly violent game. We cannot dispute that fact. So, concussions and injuries are going to occur. There are a number of things the league can do to lessen the violence and protect players, but the nature of the game itself is violent, and that’s not going to change, unless we get rid of helmets, eliminate tackling, and put the players in flag belts.  As those in rugby, boxing, rock climbing, and skydiving – Junior Seau new the risks of playing the sport he loved. Did it lead to his death? Probably so. Should the league recognize that fact about the game? Yes. Should the league be held responsible for Seau’s death. Absolutley not.  I wish Seau’s family all the best.  May Junior Seau rest in peace.  However, to sue the NFL for what is obvious to all is hypocritical and duplicitous.

We all – players, families, owners, and fans – must face the reality that professional football is an incredibly violent game. That’s why America loves it.  Injuries are going to happen.  Concussions cannot be avoided.  In the NFL, fans know that they are watching action, danger, and intrigue – without CGI or special effects. Fans are watching a group of men who are paid large amounts of money to put their lives on the line to win a game… and America finds it exhilirating. Is that a good thing? I can’t say. But I can say, that the NFL reflects who we are as a country. There is a reason that the British love tennis and cricket while we love football, mixed martial arts, and action movies like Mad Max and Terminator.  So, concussions and injuries be hanged. After the last professional football game is played in February, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger, fans know the NFL will say with a wry smile, “I’ll be back.”  And the NFL knows that America will be waiting with open arms.

3 thoughts on “The Hypocritical NFL Concussion Debate

  1. Yes, the whole NFL is most certainly corrupt, old friend. As you asked regarding the violence of the game, Tim, “is that a good thing?” May I boldly answer with an affirmative “no.” Flag football is great. If it’s baseball, well then, “Take me out to the ballgame.”

    But as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am no fan of pro football. Very early in my life, I saw very little difference between the Roman Coliseum and the football stadium. And that opinion has never changed. Crucify me already… or throw me to the Lions. I would gladly follow Christ in his sufferings, exclusion and persecutions from violent people. If they are willing to live with their conscience, I am certainly ready to live with mine.

    Having sustained a MTBI at the hands of a gang attack in 2008 while merely walking my dog, I will gladly take a stand against violence in any form, except for self-defense. Then, it was three to one, and at least I honed it down to 2-1. It could’ve been much worse, but my point is I did not choose that “game.”

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    • Are you kidding me? No difference between a football stadium and Roman Coliseum? How about NFL players choice to play, get payed millions. I was unaware slaves in the roman coliseum were paid handsomely and that it was their choice. Hm. NFL players are grown men and adults, they know the risks.

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      • Good points Will. Somehow in this debate people keep overlooking the fact that these are grown men who know the risks of playing the sport they love and getting paid great amounts of money to do so. I think the trickier issue has to do with safety for kids who play the game – kids who do not get paid and may not know the risks. Safety absolutely has to be the first concern for players up through high school. Rules and equipment need to be adjusted for those under 18 years of age.

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