Concussion effects continue creating controversy for NFL


Jazmyne Cushenberry

Photo Illustration

LANDON HUNT, Sports Editor

The NFL has been running into a mountain of off the field problems the past couple years, but one in particular has the potential to derail the future of the sport.

Footballs biggest enemy right now is chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. According to Boston University, CTE is a disease found in the brain that can result from repeated hits to the head.

Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the disease when he performed an autopsy on former NFL player Mike Webster. Since then, the condition has been found in many other former players.

When he presented his research to the public as a whistle blower, Omalu thought he was doing the NFL a favor by warning the league about what the game was doing to its players.

The NFL responded by trying to bury the reports and released their own medical reports that stated the game was safe. A movie called “Concussion” starring Will Smith as Dr. Omalu, is scheduled to come out this Christmas telling the story of his discovery.

This offseason several players retired due to the growing concern of what the game might do to their brains. These players have woken up. They left the money and the game they love behind. Now it’s time for the NFL to wake up. It’s time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get off his high horse and do something about this.

One of the players who retired this year was 49ers linebacker Chris Borland. Not only did he give up the game he played and loved since he was a little kid, he gave up most of his rookie contract. He even agreed to pay back his signing bonus to the 49ers. Borland had a phenomenal rookie season and by retiring he gave up the chance to make millions more down the road. Borland has even said in an interview that he might not let his children play football.

According to a poll done by the Associated Press, 44 percent of parents were not comfortable with letting their kids play tackle football, so Borland isn’t the only one.

Borland has seen the research and he obviously thinks it’s a big enough issue to make him leave the sport. So why hasn’t the NFL done anything about this?

A year ago researchers examined the brains of 79 former football players, and 76 of them showed evidence of CTE. That’s a scary number.

The evidence is clear; something needs to be done. The fact is that head injuries are a major problem threatening the players’ safety. If that’s not enough to motivate the NFL to do something then maybe they should think about what CTE has done to these players.

One player whose brain showed signs of the condition was former Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher. In 2012 Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, then went to the team’s practice facility and committed suicide in front of team officials. He was only 25 years old.

Earlier that year legendary San Diego linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide. Seau shot himself in the chest and his brain was donated to the National Institutes of Health for research. Later a team of doctors found that he suffered from CTE.

This is when I became worried about the game that I’ve grown up watching every Sunday. Seau was known to be one of the strongest guys in football, but even he couldn’t deal with it what the game had done to him.

Now it’s time for the NFL to do something. It’s time for Goodell to stop worrying about slightly deflated footballs and focus on saving the game that America loves.