Merckx index wrote:The NFL is an extremely popular institution, and it's hard to see how it could be put out of business. But the numbers are scary. As I quoted in that article, one could estimate $2 billion in legal settlements if all these current lawsuits were successful. That's about $60 million per team, if one wants to look at it that way. Could teams really afford that kind of money? It would not be a one-shot deal, either, but keep accumulating, year after year, until and unless either breakthroughs in protection and/or treatment were forthcoming, or a deal satisfactory to players was agreed upon.
And it's not just money. The NFL's image stands to take a huge hit if it continues to practice business as usual, knowing full well that a certain proportion of players are going to suffer brain injuries. Would you go into a profession where you had, say, a 5% chance of having a serious brain injury, no matter how good your medical coverage was? All the money in the world isn't going to reverse that brain damage, basically all it does is pay for therapy, so you can continue to function at some level despite it.
And how would you feel about an employer who continued to operate under those terms? As that linked article notes, the tobacco industry has survived only by jacking up the price of cigarettes, and it gets away with this because if you are addicted to nicotine, you will pay basically whatever you have to pay. But how much more will fans pay? And how will they feel about paying more, when they know the extra money is going to take care of players debilitated by the game?
Here’s a former NFL player who thinks there is another problem:
The day Junior Seau committed suicide was also the day I submitted to Marquette University my doctoral dissertation on the difficulties NFL players face in transitioning away from the game. While it's fashionable to blame concussions for Junior's early demise, and it's certainly possible brain trauma played a role, the adjustment to life after football came to my mind immediately.
Eight years as a linebacker with the Green Bay Packers and one with the Seattle Seahawks should have set me up for life. Instead, the tunnel vision and unwavering devotion a football career demanded left me utterly unprepared for anything else.
I played nine years in the NFL and one in NFL Europe and didn't have any concussions on record. But I did have suicidal thoughts in my first year away from the game. Not all of us suffered concussions, but all of us are going to go through the transition. And if you're like most players, you've spent most of your life focusing on the next play, the next quarter, the next half, the next game, the next offseason.
Great post. First, I have to say there was quite a bit of catching up for me to do here. Great stuff.
The latest Sports Illustrated issue is out with Seau the cover story. It is a great read. Part of the article talked about CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) going to court. CTE is a brain condition associated with repeated head trauma. And who is taking it to court? About 1,800 retired players in 68 lawsuits against the NFL, and in some cases the helmet manufacturers, for failure to treat conditions and/or failing to adequately inform players of the potential long term effects of repeated head trauma. Using Merckx's estimated settlements of $2 billion, that translates to about $29 million per lawsuit and about $1.11 million per player, if distributed equally. That's a fair sum of change for a 1970's player who probably only made $100,000 to $300,000 a year.
Adjustment to life after football is definately a factor. Many players adjust fine after hanging up the cleats. But teammates form such tight bonds that are reinforced by "going to war" together that this cannot be discounted.
Speaking of helmet manufacturers, there are some helmet innovations being considered that should help sideline staff and players determine the forces involved in helmet-to-helmet collisions, and more importantly, to determine possibly whether a player should return to action or not. For example, tiny air or fluid bags inside the helmet area placed in strategic locations (such as the temple area) that pop or break open under a certain force, which could indicate if a player may have received a head traumatizing blow.
OFC, they could always go back to leather helmets without face masks, as ChrisE kind of suggested, and just relearn tackling technique. But helmet manufacturers will likely find some way to innovate new helmets.
On Russell Wilson competing for the starting QB job in Seattle... not surprised from what I saw on Gruden's Camp. And won't be surprised if TJax is done there. It's a tough business. Thanks for the links to the articles on that topic Alpe.