The NFL makes billions of dollars each year. It is America’s beloved violent pastime. Yet the rash of brain and spinal trauma cases depicted this season do not seem to have had much impact on permanent changes to the game and the on field violence. The Sports Illustrated Special Report on Concussions described some of the steps the football league as taking after a rash of severe head injuries on the field.
However, the NFL’s million dollar donation to my alma mater, Boston University ("BU"), is a pocket change offering in light of the fact that players paid many millions of dollars are being carried off the field after violent tackles that cause concussions, loss of consciousness, traumatic brain injury and dementia. The league’s donation to the BU School of Medicine’s Center ("BUMC")
for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy is the equivalent of one game pay to one of the high-priced quarterbacks I have seen taken out of the game due to a head injury, vicious hit or skull rattling tackle. Hitting a quarterback from "the blind side," sacking and piling on 300 pound bodies on top of the vulnerable player is a recipe for disaster.
The ranks of retired professional American football players who suffer from permanent brain injury and cognitive deficits is growing and needs intensive study, prevention and treatment. The NFL’s token gift to Boston University is merely a drop in the bucket. A flood of brain damaged retirees will soon make up a large portion of the NFL’s players’ union. What the league, players and union do to prevent this unnecessary carnage will serve as a guide for other, less violent sports (hockey, baseball, lacrosse, etc.) where constant full body contact cause frequent injuries, breakdown and impaired brain function.