American football can be a violent sport. It is, after all, a sport where contact is required. The NFL takes dangerous contact seriously, leveling fines against players who deliver unnecessarily violent hits. Yet, there is plenty of room for improvement.
According to an article in The New York Times, numerous former players brought lawsuits against the National Football League in 2012. The players maintain the NFL was not forthcoming with facts regarding how dangerous concussions, and especially multiple concussions, could be for players. The league is also facing opposition from its insurers. As the evidence about the dangers of concussions and other brain injuries mounts, the league will have to address these issues for both former and current players.
Ailments Caused by Brain Injuries
The scientific journal, Brain, has linked multiple concussions with long-term, degenerative brain disease. In fact, the head injuries did not have to equate to a concussion — even repeated mild jarring of the brain could cause brain disease.
Along with the possibility of developing a degenerative illness, those who have suffered brain injuries can also suffer from other ailments, such as personality changes, mood swings, headaches, dizziness and ringing in the ears.
The risk of the disease and various long-term problems, however, is not enough to change the game, for either the league or its players. According to one current player, the word "concussion" is a four-letter word in a locker room. Players would rather take the hits, shake them off, and keep playing than be labeled, and some teams are giving the impression that if a player wants to take that approach, they will turn a deaf ear to the injury.
For example, the NFL has claimed that the number of concussion injuries decreased over the last two years, going as far as to announce a 13 percent decline in concussions from the previous year. Some experts claim the data the NFL provided to back up that claim is flawed.
In an article by ESPN, experts explain that some of the discrepancies have occurred because each team is allowed to create their own "code" regarding a player's injuries and playing status after a concussion or head trauma. Also, there have been instances where a team's medical staff have sent players back into a game even though the player fit the criteria for a brain injury and technically should not have been allowed back in the game.
Lawsuits Could Follow Violent Hits
Until the league is ready to fully address this issue, players are going to continue to suffer these types of injuries, and the lawsuits against the league will continue, leaving the sport as dangerous as ever. Any players, whether they play for the NFL or a high school league, who feel they have suffered a brain injury due to negligence should seek the guidance of legal professionals. It may be possible to recover compensation for injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other economic and noneconomic damages caused by the negligence.