NFL players three times more likely to die from neurological diseases
A damning study released by the CDC today links NFL players to several neurological conditions including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The study’s release date is a bit suspicious given the season’s start tonight.
The study looked at nearly 3,500 retirees who played for at least five seasons between 1959 and 1988. Of the 334 former players in that cohort who have died, neurodegenerative disease caused or contributed to 17 deaths.
Although the research suggests that concussions and repeated blows to the head are likely to blame for the increased risk, researcher Everett Lehman says multiple studies are needed to definitively blame concussions.
Let’s be honest here, it’s only a matter of time before definitive research links concussions to death. There’s simply more attention and more money being paid now than ever before. I suspect we would have known years ago had more players come forward with their medical problems.
But in the end, does any of this matter? Will players refuse to take the field knowing they’ll die in their 50s and 60s? Even with advances in helmet technology and rule changes on kickoffs, concussions will still happen. Our bodies aren’t made to repeatedly crash into one other at high speeds, let alone massive bodies weighing 300+ pounds.
So then what? What’s the point of all this? To inform players of impending doom without any action being taken? I’d love to see a study of players today asking them one simple question:
Would you give up your paycheck, your lifestyle for 20 extra years of life? The answers would probably haunt you.
Playing in NFL Triples Risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Diseases [U.S. News and World Report]