To keep players on the field

The National Football League has to give former players a whole lot of money.

A federal judge gave final approval on Wednesday to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by about 5,000 former National Football League players who accused the league of covering up the dangers of concussions.

The settlement, approved by Judge Anita Brody, includes allowing for monetary awards of up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma and could cost the league $1 billion over 65 years.

Which they can well afford, considering how profitable the whole racket is.

The NFL is accused of covering up the dangers of concussions to keep players on the field. The league and the players union estimate that 30 percent of former players will develop brain conditions like Alzheimer’s or a less debilitating form of dementia.

Concussions have become a major issue for America’s most popular sports league, causing some players to cut short their careers, including Chris Borland, a 24-year-old linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, who recently retired over concerns about long-term head injuries.

The game is violent not incidentally but intentionally. The violence is an important part of the game. Fans like it. Advertisers play it up.


  1. quixote says

    The irony of it is, the game could be more violent and less damaging. Get rid of all the helmets and pads. You, know, like rugby. It has plenty of problems with injuries, but not like US football.

    Of course, minus helmets, pads, and spandex it wouldn’t be the same game, would it?

  2. says

    One observation I read is player size and time to suffer CTE and other brain damage, a result of HGH, steroid use, or just plain too much size (weight lifting, eating):

    1970s: Average weight of linemen, 240 pounds, and roughly 30 years to suffer CTE.
    1980s: Average weight, 260. 20 years.
    1990s. Average weight 280. 10 years.
    2000s and now: Average weight 300+. Players get CTE while playing.

    And, to no surprise, concussions are directly related to violence against family members or others around the players (e.g. Jovan Belcher, Junior Seau).

    The problem is getting worse and happening faster, and it’s not just the NFL players. The pros may be getting big payouts, but nobody else will. The NFL accounts for only 1% of football players, those not in the NFL will never see a dime despite suffering the same effects. About twenty college players were forced quit in the last year alone because of concussions and CTE. But even worse, some high school kids are dying from CTE. Ten to twelve year old children playing Pop Warner football are suffering multiple concussions.

    Signups for kids’ football have dropped about 10% in the last two years. People are finally smartening up and not endangering kids, pushing them into basketball, soccer and baseball instead. If football organizations at all levels (from kids to pros) don’t start doing something now to control the weight and size of the players, football won’t have any players and the game will implode. You can’t feed the meat grinder if there isn’t any meat.

  3. Sea Monster says

    The Seattle Seahawks have adopted Rugby style tackling which is a lot safer. More arm and shoulder, less head. And seem to be going well so it works. Seems to me American Football needs to get rid of head-first tackling yesterday. Ban it. An arm tackle will bring down an opponent just as effectively. The only reason you’d lead with your head is you want to inflict a brain injury.

    And even more urgently: I was gobsmacked to see on TV 10 year olds training by running at each other and colliding head to head. That’s just stupid.

  4. Sea Monster says

    @Leftover1under. Maybe they should look at reducing stoppages and reducing interchange of players. That would make it harder for big players to keep up.

  5. Holms says

    Feel free to ignore the brawl that nearly breaks out though, that was prompted not by the tackle itself but by the treatment of the player after he had been brought down.

  6. says

    covering up the dangers of concussions

    How can you ‘cover up’ those dangers? It’s been known for literally hundreds of years that boxers get “punch drunk” (parkinsons-like symptoms) from concussions and being whacked in the head. Even if you want to grant that football players have stereotypically lower intellect, it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that: brain injury severe enough to trigger temporary shutdown and mid-term swelling is a bad thing.

  7. says

    You, know, like rugby. It has plenty of problems with injuries, but not like US football.

    True; because those helmets turned into a playing style that consisted of ramming your head into the other guy’s head as a strategy. You wouldn’t get that if you were bareheaded; not for long, anyway. Rugby’s got broken bones and contusions, etc.

    In Rome they chose gladiators from condemned criminals, or from the poor, who had nothing left to lose but their lives. In the US there are a lot of kids who see playing football as a way to get a cheap college education; instead they get traumatic brain injuries, a fake education (because they don’t actually get to study and learn) and a career as a salesguy somewhere – the guy with the bad back, ankles, and knees, who kind of stumbles sometimes.

  8. says

    Marcus @ 7 – well they did though. They didn’t say concussion was a good thing, but they certainly did minimize it and treat it as just part of the game. That’s why they got sued…

  9. moarscienceplz says

    Quixote #1

    Get rid of all the helmets and pads.

    The trouble is that brain damage can occur even without head contact. Simply slamming your trunk into someone else’s or the ground causes your brain to move around and smash up against your skull.

  10. lorn says

    “Which they can well afford, considering how profitable the whole racket is.”

    Treat the help as if they are equal partners in the grand enterprise of sports entertainment … it just isn’t done. Do that and they will get all uppity and demand wages and benefits in proportion to the size of their contribution. We start playing that game and next thing you know they will realize the owners and coaches are not really all that vital to the enterprise and suggest that they should get a smaller slice of the pie. We can’t let that happen … not good for business.

    If people start demanding fairness you just never know where it might go. Seats on corporate boards could see substantial cuts in pay.

    If my cousin didn’t get that $50,000 for four hours a month he might have to get a real job … he can’t get a real job. He’s useless. Wearing a suit and voting the way we tell him to are his only talents.

    CEOs, hell, the entire executive suite, might see pay cuts or —-gasp— claw-backs. Oh, the humanity. Think of the millionaires. How they would suffer.

    No, no … no this whole meritocracy thing, with its demand for pay commensurate with effort, work product, and talent thing is a nonstarter. It just wouldn’t work. We need to nip this in the bud.

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