Former NFL player Junior Seau took his own life last May at the age of 43. His family donated his brain to the National Institute of Health who has learned that he had a brain disease that came from hits to the head.
This come during a time when player safety is of high concern in the NFL. Especially when it comes to head injuries. While it is no surprise NFL players are at risk for head injuries, this scenario shows that the injuries can occur even if the player has no history of sustaining concussions and head injuries.
Seau had never been diagnosed with a concussion or other head injury. If the player can have the effects and get the disease without being diagnosed with such a head injury, it would seem to me to be hard to protect oneself.
Doctors can not even say at this point what time of head trauma caused this disease. If doctors can not tell you what causes the disease, how can you prevent it?
The NFL is a fast moving, hard hitting game. It involved big, strong men moving at fast speeds colliding into each other creating hard hits with huge impact. And then you have to add in all the years prior to the NFL in which the player is involved in. Injuries are going to happen. And the years of beating on each other is going to take its toll.
I’m all for trying to make the game safer. Improving helmets, providing better education to the players and teams, even having concussion experts on the sidelines all would help improve the long term health of players.
But in the end I don’t think you are going to remove the risk of the game without radically changing how the game is played. And I don’t think anyone involved is going to want to do that. Players, owners, and fans alike all like the hard hits and knockouts. It is what makes football what it is.