Player Safety and the NFLPA's Decision to Protect Wallets Instead
North American football is a violent game.
This seems to be the only thing either side can agree on; but for football to continue to resemble football, they must do better.
In light of the Junior Seau tragedy, "player safety" and "concussions" are once again the topic of discussion. Everyone is an amateur neurologist. Everyone wants to point a finger. Everyone wants their palms clean. But nobody wants to admit they're dirty.
The NFLPA has put together a lawsuit with the naming and backing of some 1,600 former NFL players and are suing the NFL. The game they loved as children. The game that made them rich. The game that helped many escape the streets and make something of themselves.
This lawsuit is based on the NFL hiding scientific information that repeatedly hitting, and getting hit, in the head is not good for you. Somewhere a lady with a framed pair of coffee-stained pants is laughing.
The NFLPA missing the point is what could eventually lead to the decline of the NFL. It's not about hidden information, they'd hire their own doctors if it were. It's about protecting the health of your players, present and post-career, instead of just their wallets.
Yes, Goodell is heavy handed with his fines and suspensions, but that's in part due to the litany of lawsuits against him claiming the NFL is essentially a sweatshop.
Football is a violent game. Torn muscles, broken bones, fractures, ruptures, and concussions are a part of the game. That's why the pay is inflated. A four-year career in the NFL has to pay significantly more than a four-year stint as nearly anything else for it to be a viable option one would willingly choose.
I have no problem with that. You're always worth what someone will pay you. The other side is a bit trickier. Not many jobs expect you to retire in 4-10 years. The sacrifices made during a stint in the NFL warrant a level of post-career care that the NFLPA should be fighting for with all the ferocity of an Adrian Peterson stiff-arm.
The NFL should not be allowed to take hundreds of thousands out of the pockets of NFL players for being too physical and not have to invest that money (and more) into research and medical attention for those on the receiving end of said physicality.
Rather than fight for better benefits, former players are now popping up on various radio shows stating their fear of letting their children play the same game that's already put their children's children through college.
The NFLPA and former players should be working together to force the NFL's hand on providing post-career medical care. No fine or suspension during an NFL season is going to save a life. The hit still happened and as long as football is football, they will continue to happen.
There are no secrets anymore. This game is brutal and has severe long-term consequences. It's what both sides choose to do with this information that'll determine the future of the NFL.
Junior Seau should've had someplace to turn to. He should've had the option to receive help from specialists and professionals at no cost to him or his family. Maybe he would've rejected it, maybe he would've accepted it. However, with neither option, speculation is irrelevant. The only relevant question becomes: Who's next?
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