The Real Dangers Playing Football

Football is the most popular sport in America, but it is also one of the most dangerous. Former and current football players are suffering from a disease in their brains that is not diagnosable unless you slice into the brains of these players. See why famous athletes like Mike Webster and Junior Seau have killed themselves so many years after football.

Football players are the most prone to getting Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This is a brain condition associated with repeated blows to the head. It is also associated with the development of dementia. The main cause of CTE is constant trauma to the brain. CTE causes memory loss impaired judgment, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

After years of down playing the long-term risks of concussions, the NFL finally started to implement a concussion protocol before the 2009 season. It has continually been tweaked and changed to better examine to players. According to SB Nation, the NFL’sconcussion protocol states a player must be immediately removed from the field following a hit or collision that could have resulted in a concussion.

The team trainer for each NFL team and an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant review the hit that just occurred to the injured player, and come up with a test to asses their mental state. The Madden rule is when a player is taken to the locker room for closer examination to see if the player can return to the game, miss the rest of the game or be out for a substantial period of time.

Concussion protocol is a process that NFL medical professionals follow. It is a step-by-step protocol that goes through identifying the injury, diagnosing and treating the player's concussion. The first version of the protocol was developed in 2011 by the NFL Head, Neck and Spine committee, who is a part of the board of independent and NFL affiliated physicians and scientist, including advisers to the NFL Players' Association (NFLPA). The concussion protocol is reviewed each year in order to make it as up to date and full proof to make ensure that players are safe enough to continue physical contact on the field.

The 2017 NFL Concussion Diagnosis and Management Protocol and the corresponding “Concussion Game Day Checklist” have been changed and tweaked from the 2017 consensus statement. To make sure that this is being followed, and loopholes are not being found by teams to get their players onto the field, the NFL and NFLPA have developed an enforcement policy.

Even with all of these protocols and rules trying to protect the players from suffering a head injury, injuries are still going to occur. Since the Concussion protocol was implemented there have been over 200 reported concussion every season.

2012 - 265

2013 - 244

2014 - 212

2015 - 279

2016 - 250

2017 - 291

That 2017 season had the most up-to-date and enforced protocol in the league alongside new protective technology to better protect he players from concussions. With the knowledge that the NFL knows about these head injuries and the medical community knows the risks that come with the trauma, they are tying to come up with new ways to protect players from head injures. Those specialists now try to diagnose and protect the players as much as they can, trying to make the NFL as safe as it can be.

Football is a physical game that it is, has the most concussion diagnoses out of every major American sport. Concussions were not talked about until 1994, when former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue created the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee. Dr. Elliot Pellman was named chairman, despite not having experience with brain injuries. The first case on a former football player occurred when former NFL Hall of Fame center Mike Webster passed away. Webster committed suicide, and Dr. Bennet Omalu investigated the suicide and analyzed his brain and diagnosed Webster with CTE in 2002. Before Webster passed away, his son Garret moved back to Pittsburg to live with his father because he could not take care of himself.

"I have to take care of my dad. There will be some mornings he can't get up from the couch because he feels so terrible." Garret, Webster's son, said during an interview with the New York Times.

Mike Webster is not the only athlete who has suffered from CTE. There are massive numbers of professional athletes who have suffered from the symptoms of CTE, they did not realize that they are suffering from the brain disease until there could be an autopsy report on the diseased. Athletes like Junior Seau, Aaron Hernandez, Jovan Belcher and Ralph Wenzel among others. Junior Seau was found dead in his house at the age of 43. A year prior to Seau’s suicide Dave Duerson shot himself in the chest and died.

Young athletes are also at risk every game and every practice of receiving severe head trauma. This year alone, there were multiple stories of students passing away from brain injuries. There was not a happy ending for Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who, at the age of 21, was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound and a suicide note on Jan. 16.

His parents requested there be an autopsy on him and he reported to have extensive brain damage, or CTE. The same disease that found found in Mike Webster, Junior Seau, and hundreds of other professional football players have suffered from. After Hilinski's death, Washington State said it's adding more safeguards to help students, including a second formal mental health screening for all football players and meetings with all varsity sports athletes to consider mental health risks.

Nikolas Bizub, a 21-year-old film major currently attending Mt. San Antonio Community College, played all 4 years of high school football at defensive tackle. Nick has received up to six concussions. The worst of them coming from an Oklahoma tackling drill. Nick was trying to impress his coaches to make the varsity roster as a junior.

That hit caused Nick to stumble while trying to walk over to the bench. Nick overheard one of his coaches telling him to “walk it off”. One of his friends spotted him, and finally got the attention from the team trainers. That hit resulted in Nick losing his memory for the of the first 6 months of that year. Nick still does not regret playing, and even wishes that he could still play to this fay.

During those six months was when he met his future fiancée Ambar Elder. While they were dating Nick received another concussion during his senior year, and this would be his last one playing football. Ambar was worried about his health, but she wanted him to do whatever made him happy and that was playing football. After his high school career, Nick quit football and would never play organized again.

To hear more about Nick's story, go to the link to my podcast and listen to the interview i had with him about all his concussions.