Andrew Mazza: Grade 8
Since the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) in 1920, a total of 25 known athletes have died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Thirty-three other players have recently been diagnosed with CTE, with former Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Favre as the most famous of them. CTE is a brain-related injury caused by a lack of protection for the head. Eight to ten years after suffering a brain injury, such as a concussion, symptoms may begin to reveal themselves. Symptoms start with a deterioration of attention and can become as extreme as having a desire to commit suicide.
Unfortunately, according to ESPN the NFL has failed until recently to admit that CTE is linked to NFL injuries. On March 15, 2016, the NFL’s top safety advisor admitted, for the first time, that there is a link between the NFL and CTE. When Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., asked Senior Vice President for Health and Safety Jeff Miller if a link exists between football and neurodegenerative diseases, Miller responded, “The answer to that question is certainly yes.” This shows the public that not only does the NFL admit that CTE is related to sport injuries, but it also establishes more importantly that the organization is no longer trying to conceal this connection. The NFL backed up Miller’s assertion, releasing a statement saying how Miller’s words were accurate based off of the data conducted by the professional league.
The NFL has not taken the necessary actions, until now, to improve player safety. Miller was also quoted saying, “I think the broader point, and the one that your question gets to, is what that necessarily means, and where do we go from here with that information.” Miller contended that little is known about the disease.
The NFL has been cracking down on players who are overly aggressive and cause unnecessary harm. In the Wild Card game of the 2016 NFL playoffs, Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Vontaze Burfict collided with a defenseless Antonio Brown, causing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ star receiver to endure a concussion. This cost the Bengals the game, as there was a penalty that gave Pittsburgh the advantage. What was worse for Vontaze, however, was the three-game, no-pay suspension he received and must endure at the start of the 2016 – 2017 season.
Although the League may not be improving the equipment that the players are wearing, it is punishing those who are abusive when they play. This is a step in the right direction and may lead to new rules and hopefully a safer football environment.