My brother Chad had to write an editorial for his writing class at BYU. He wrote it on the dangers and consequences of players getting hit in the NFL. Enjoy...
Writing 150 Op-Ed
14 September 2012
Nice Hit! What people don’t know about these “Hits”
Just as the world is constantly changing, the NFL is an evolving organization. Since football’s birth in 1869, the game has changed in various ways, from the gear worn to specific rules. Today, players are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever, which has resulted in serious injuries for those who play the game they love. Side effects of big hits include broken bones, major concussions, eventual brain damage, and recently, suicide. Many people enjoy watching big hits, as do I, but the consequences of these hits can be deadly. In attempt to prevent as many serious injuries as possible, the NFL implemented guidelines and new rules in 2010. Despite the fact that most people dislike these rules and think that they take away from the game, I am in favor of the rules the NFL has implemented to help stop serious injuries to its players.
I played football in high school and took some hard hits that left me with injuries that are still affecting me. I live with tendonitis after breaking my wrist my freshman year. When I was a sophomore I separated and sprained the AC joint in my shoulder, and I still have problems with the same shoulder everyday. My junior and senior year I received some brutal hits and two mild concussions. High school football is on a much lower level of play than the NFL, but even still, serious injuries can happen to its athletes.
In 2010 the NFL implemented new rules for player safety. These rules include: when a ball carriers’ helmet comes off the play is whistled dead; during field goals and punts opposing players cannot line up directly over the center; and officials will call more 15 yard penalties for spearing at or launching at a defenseless player. Overall these rules benefit the players and don’t take away from the game of football, they only enhance player safety (Volin).
When you get into your car everyday, do you think to yourself, “I am going to get into a crash and get seriously injured or die”? This thinking relates to the NFL and its players. Many people think NFL players understand the risks they take when they sign up, and therefore, there shouldn’t be rules against certain hits. NFL athletes don’t think about getting injured or dying every time they step onto the field to play. They think about the plays they want to make and what their responsibilities are. Incurring serious injures is sometimes a shock to many athletes and can lead to depression, especially if these injuries end their career. There are traffic laws and car safety to keep us safe when we drive, and there should be rules and guidelines to keep football players safe as well.
People also think that because NFL players are paid so much, they are compensated for the hits and concussions they receive. While the majority of NFL players attend college, most don’t graduate before being drafted. They can be in a rough spot when career-ending injuries happen because the money they earned only lasts them so long. They are out of jobs and finding new ones can be hard if they don’t have college degrees. According to Sports Illustrated, roughly 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt or under financial stress within two years of retirement (Wiles). Many people have no sympathy for these players because they only think about the money they earned while they were playing. Those making these judgments need to realize that NFL players are normal human beings just like the rest of us. Many players go bankrupt and go through various stages of depression, which can be a result of serious mental injuries from concussions.
Former BYU quarterback Jim McMahon stated, “There are a lot of times when I walk into a room and forget why I walked in there” (Mitchell). After his career at BYU, McMahon played in the NFL for 14 years, spending time as a Chicago Bear and San Diego Charger. He is one of many former players to have mental problems after retiring. Serious mental injuries come from illegal hits that cause concussions time and time again. These serious concussions lead to very problematic mental problems, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Individuals with this degenerative disease suffer with memory loss, aggression, confusion, depression and occasionally suicide (Schwarz). Former NFL star Junior Seau is one of three suicide victims that shot themselves in the chest. One of the suicide victims, two-time Super Bowl champion Dave Deurson, left a note asking for his brain to be donated to the NFL’s brain bank (Schwarz). Duerson believed that the many hits he took while playing in the NFL caused him to be mentally impaired. The Boston University School of Medicine found that Duerson suffered from CTE, believed to be caused from his 10 concussions he received during his time in the NFL (Smith).
There are a lot of former players that have experienced problems with memory loss and severe brain damage. In 2011, McMahon and six former NFL players filed a lawsuit against the NFL. Their case stated that the NFL did not handle concussion injuries as well as it should have. Shortly after, 75 other former players made similar complaints against the NFL (Kyros). Former athletes that have played in the NFL realize the risks players are at today; they have been in their same position. These retirees are prime examples of what happens to you after you come out of the brutal NFL.
I know that most people don’t realize that mental damage and suicide can happen to the players they enjoy watching. The NFL uses the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to cover up the evidence of the brain damage that comes from concussions (Kyros). If the NFL didn’t try to cover up these effects, more would know and understand that although these big hits are entertaining, they can ruin the lives of the inflicted. The game of football has changed and will continue to. The fact that players keep getting bigger, faster, and stronger makes it impossible for rules to not adapt to the present state of the game. If the NFL hadn’t made any rule alterations since football started in 1869, the game would not have lasted. The changes they have made are in the best interests of its players. Even though some are critical of the rules changes, there are those that think even more rules or fines should be implemented. I am for the newly added rules the NFL implemented in 2010 and believe there will be many more changes in the years to come. Ask yourself this, “Do I want to be selfish and continue to watch these big hits for my entertainment, or do I want refs to call penalties on the enforcers of these hits to keep players safe?”
Kyros, Konstantine Williams. "The NFL Concussion Cover-up: Concealing Brain Damange
Risks." NFL Head Injury Lawsuit Claims Center. 03 June 2012. Web. 30 Sep 2012.
Mitchell, Fred. "Ex-Bears QB McMahon on SI cover about brain trauma." Chicago Tribune 05
09 2012. Web. 30 Sep. 2012. <http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-05/sports/chi-exbears-qb-mcmahon-in-si-article-about-brain-trauma-20120905_1_brain-trauma-brain-scan-si-article>.
Schwarz, Alan. "Suicide, a Last Request, a Famil'ys Questions." New York Times 22 02 2011.
Web. 30 Sep. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/sports/football/23duerson.html?_r=1&seid=auto&smid=tw-nytimes&pagewanted=all>.
Smith, Stephanie. "Duerson brain tissue analyzed: Suicide linked to brain disease." CNN 03 05
2011. Web. 30 Sep. 2012.
Volin, Ben. "Explaining the NFL rules changes for 2010." Daily Dolphin [West Palm Beach, FL]
06 08 2010. Web. 30 Sep. 2012. <http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/thedailydolphin/2010/08/06/explaining-the-nfl-rules-changes-for-2010/>.
Wiles, Russ. "Pro athletes often fumble the financial ball." USA Today 22 04 2012. Web.
30 Sep. 2012. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/story/2012-04-22/Pro-athletes-