NFL Players and Risk of Brain Injury

This is an excellent article that speaks clearly about the inherent risk of brain injury to NFL players. PK

The NFL’S Concussion Policy Requires gibberish Translation (i.e. Attorneys) by Spencer Hall

That’s a pair of engineers climbing a radio tower 1700 feet into the air without any constant safety measures, something allowed by OSHA, the agency responsible for regulating work safety in this country. The reasoning: safety measures would slow down the job unnecessarily, and as long workers and employers are okay with this, men will continue to be paid to climb radio towers with nothing between them and death by gravitational force.

The NFL functions similarly.

Star-divide

If you play in the NFL, there are no illusions about the conception of risk in the general sense. You may not sue the NFL for a broken leg, because it was you out there running around with Bernard Pollard, and Bernard Pollard does what he does. Sometimes that includes breaking legs, or arms, or however else he can maim the main across from him. You knew that when you got in the cage with the tiger, sir: the mauling is really just instinct enabled by design.

So let’s accept a certain amount of danger associated with playing football. It is not the only dangerous job, and it is certainly not the only one that does not want OSHA or any other outside authority regulating what goes on between employer and employed.  The only time this happens is when one side refuses to recognize the terms of reality, which is unfortunately rather common. (Hint: see rest of article.)

If you want the human, emotional, and disturbing side of the NFL’s continuing stonewalling re: concussions and their nasty aftereffects, Hashiell Dammit has it here. The chief takeaway for a fan of football at any level is that you have to assume a modicum of responsibility for fueling the bloodsport in front of you. It’s a transaction: your interest fuels the game, and your culpability is balanced by the players acceptance of risk and their high salaries. This is not a case of a chicken factory worker mangled by a malfunctioning deboning machine: this is football, and like a hundred other dangerous jobs it requires a certain acceptance of risk.

The definition of that risk, though, must change with sane work practices. Window washing is dangerous, but acknowledging that doesn’t negate the need for a safety belt, or to deny that the wind exists as a factor in the danger. This is what the NFL has in fact done towards the issue of concussions, first denying it, then acknowledging they exist but hiring two doctors whose opinions stood in stark disagreement with the weight of majority medical opinion. In short: no lasting effects, no damage, and thus no disability. Science!

[/lawsuit goes POOF!]

[/adjourn to lunch at steakhouse]

(Find the simplest answer here : either these two men were unrecognized geniuses, or they were chosen because their opinions aligned with the legally convenient path of least effort for the NFL. It’s probably the latter, but if you like to make your logic sweat under the burden of proof, you go right ahead and do that.)

The UFC’s concussion policy in the state of Nevada for a concussion is 45 days out of competition. Please note the date on that linked article: 2007, three years ago now. The UFCstill has better concussion protocols than the NFL does (mostly because it has to under Nevada law.) This is from the Department of Redundancy and Redundancies, but the entity in question here is the NFL, which is a corporation, loyal only to its shareholders in its decisions. They don’t act morally or responsibly, and you shouldn’t be surprised or shocked by that since by definition is what they do.

They can be influenced to to the right thing the hard way: by costing them money, something shareholders tend to frown upon in a corporate setting. Concussions exist; they are mismanaged at the team level on a weekly basis; this behavior bleeds down into the college level and beyond as a matter of practice; their effects are long-lasting, pernicious, and can result in personality change, chronic pain, depression, and a possible correlation with suicidal behavior.

The science is there, and the litigation will follow, since litigation is the only stimulus a corporation will respond to besides anything denting the bottom line. No one would point to a broken rib sticking from a player’s torso and deny it was a.) there, and b.) potentially affecting his future health. Yet this is what the NFL is doing with concussions now, and enough lawyering up along the way will undoubtedly help change this. Curse them all you like, but when the opposition starts speaking jibberish, you need someone who can argue in their language. (And nothing says gibberish more than the NFL’s current policies and practices re: concussions.)

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