Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a big problem in the NFL. Along with concussions, CTE continues to effect players and former players. Former players have died from the disease and some are suffering from it right now. The NFL has been under a lot of scrutiny for what they do not do for their current and former players.
Over 4,000 players have sued the NFL for millions. Right now the NFL is working to reduce concussions with new protocol and safer equipment. New technology is being introduced that can help prevent and detect concussions. The NFL needs to put more money into CTE research and to support former players more. The NFL should do more to reduce concussions and help former players who are suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative brain disease that is caused from repeated blows to the head.
Progressive degenerative means that the disease attacks organs and tissues, causing them to deteriorate over time. “The brain of an individual who suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy gradually deteriorates and will over time end up losing mass. Certain areas of the brain are particularly liable to atrophy, though other areas are prone to becoming enlarged”(BIRI).When someone has CTE they have a buildup of too much tau, an abnormal protein. Symptoms of CTE can include depression, short-term memory loss, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Effects of CTE can take a long time to take effect, or they can appear rather soon in ones life.
Because symptoms of CTE can be similar to parkinson’s disease or alzheimer’s, many people just believe it is from their age. There are four stages of CTE. Each stage of CTE has noticeable symptoms. The symptoms of stage one are headaches, loss of attention, and loss of concentration. In stage two of CTE the symptoms include all of stage one and depression, short term memory loss, as well as explosivity. The third stage has executive dysfunction and memory loss. It also has all the other stages, but progressively worse. In stage four, the worst stage, symptoms include executive dysfunction, memory loss, paranoia, and language difficulties.
These eventually lead to early dementia. CTE is a terrible disease that makes people suffer. Concussions are a main cause of CTE. In 2015 there were 271 concussions, 182 of those concussions were during games. This was and increase of over 31.6% from the 2014 season.
“For now, that leaves the league unable to answer a question that has dogged it in past seasons: Are the concussion numbers up because there were actually more head injuries, or was it because teams are getting better at spotting and reporting them(Breslow).” There is speculation that the large increase was because of the NFL improving the concussion protocol and becoming better at detecting The NFL has assigned an Unaffiliated Neurotrauma Consultant to every team in the NFL. Each of these UNC ‘s sit in booths for there assigned team and watch the game for any possible concussions during the game or any symptoms.
There are also two athletic trainers assigned to every game to watch for any concussive plays. There is a baseline test every player has to take at the beginning of the season to compare to a concussion test. If there are any symptoms of a concussion the player is taken out and tested immediately. “According to the Madden Rule, which was introduced in 2011 and remains an official part of the league’s concussion protocol, a player who has been diagnosed with a concussion must leave the field and immediately be escorted to a locker room or training room. That player is not permitted to return until medically cleared”(Flynn). This new Madden Rule is important because playing with a concussion will only make it worse. The only way to heal a concussion is rest, and that is what this rule does. When a player suffers a concussion during practice or a game by rule they are done for the day.
NFL protocol has continued to improve every year. New technology in the NFL is also improving every year. This includes helmet technology. Vicis, a former start up company, has created a totally new helmet that protects from concussions better than any other helmet. Vicis’s helmet, the Vicis Zero1, was tested along with other helmets by the NFL and the NFLPA. Out of all the other helmets, the Vicis Zero1 was rated highest.
The Vicis Zero1 has 4 layers of protection that help push any force back away from the head. Although the NFL cannot force players to wear a certain helmet, they are encouraging it. Over 70 players are wearing the new Vicis Zero1 right now, and more plan to. College teams like Michigan State and Notre Dame have also ordered some Vicis Zero1’s for some of their players. New Technology and other ways to help reduce concussions are huge when it comes to preventing CTE in players.
Mike Webster was the first former NFL player to be diagnosed with CTE. He was diagnosed by Dr. Bennet Omalu. Omalu faced heat for his research and many thought he was insane.
Webster had many symptoms of CTE before his death, which was caused by this disease. CTE had got to him so bad that he resorted to tazing himself to calm his nerves. Effects of CTE on players was not a hot topic to be talked about until Junior Seau, a Hall of Fame Linebacker, commit suicide by shooting himself in 2012.
Seau’s death was a wake up call to the NFL and the fans of the NFL. Once his brain was tested and confirmed to have CTE, more had to be done. Jim Mcmahon is a former player who is suffering from CTE, which has also gave him depression and alzheimer’s. He has pushed for the NFL to help former players more to no avail.
Mcmahon suffers from daily migraines aswell, that have almost pushed him to suicide. These are just some of the effects that CTE has on players and not to mention their families. Another case of this was in former Patriots tight end, Aaron Fernandez. Fernandez was a rising star in the league and had a very bright future with the Patriots. Him and Rob Gronkowski, also tight end for Patriots, were a dual threat that was very tough to stop for opposing defenses. Unfortunately, Fernandez’s career was over.
He was found guilty for murder and was sent to jail for life. While in Jail Fernandez hung himself with his bed sheets. His brain was tested for CTE and showed that he had a very aggressive case of CTE and it was likely the reason for him killing someone. Even in mild cases of CTE symptoms are noticeable. CTE can make life for someone miserable and many believe the NFL needs to do more to help their former players who are suffering. Before recently you could only diagnose CTE after death. Many former players were suffering from CTE but there was no way of knowing that they had it.
In 2013 a former Vikings player, Fred McNeill, was scanned by Dr. Bennet Omalu and his team. The scan showed that he had a buildup of tau proteins in his brain. These tau proteins were found in the damaged parts of his brain and Omalu diagnosed it as CTE. He could not prove it until McNeill’s death. In 2017 Fred McNeill passed away and a CTE test was positive and proved Omalu right. This was a breakthrough for CTE research and the NFL. Now that CTE can be diagnosed before death, doctors can tests current players and could recommend them to stop playing.
If the players do stop it could reduce the severity of their CTE and provide them with a better life. Since then, more has been found to help diagnose CTE before death. Boston University discovered a biomarker that indicates CTE. Scientists will never stop researching to reduce and cure CTE. The NFL has been under a lot of scrutiny over the years with the handling of their former players.
Many of the NFL’s former players are suffering from CTE. Many players believe the NFL just leaves them to fend for themselves. From playing every Sunday to watching from the couch is hard for any football player, and CTE is definitely not helping. The NFL was recently sued for their lack of help with players with CTE by thousands of former players.. The judge did rule in favor of the former players. The NFL was forced to pay out $75 million for medical exams for former players and $10 million for research. The NFL also has to pay an amount that has no limit for former players who can prove they have a brain issue that is part of the deal.
This settlement could cost the NFL a lot of money. “In total, the settlement is expected to cost the NFL nearly $1 billion dollars over the next 65 years — an amount on par with what it earns during a single season in sponsorships alone”(Breslow). Aaron Hernandez’s family and his agent filed a lawsuit against the New England Patriots and the NFL. Unfortunately any player whose career ended before July 2014 could not sue the NFL unless they opted out.
Hernandez never opted out of the deal, therefore the NFL should have a easy case to win the lawsuit. Although the NFL has been sued by many former players and proven guilty, they still continue to deny any wrongdoing. If the NFL want to prevent CTE, first they need to help former players that already have it. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and concussions are a big problem in the NFL and pose a big risk.
It has caused many deaths, including suicides and murders. Scientist are researching to figure out how to stop CTE and help former and current players who have it. New technology is helping with concussions. From new helmets to detecting concussions better, technology continues to advance everyday in the NFL. This technology is made to help prevent concussions, and ultimately CTE.
The NFL is not doing enough to help players and former players with their brain injuries and diseases.