(Another guest post from our very own Kazzy!)
(In a slight departure from the format of my first two posts, this one is going to be more of a bleg and less of a pontification. This is being done for two primary reasons: Iam far from an expert on the legal, medical, and ethical issues at play here and realize I have much more to learn about this topic from the folks here than to offer of myself; second, I’m hoping to generate more conversation within thecomments. The first post surpassed 80 comments which was remarkable but the topic and length of the second one generated far less. Enjoy!)
Junior Seau, a standout NFL linebacker for 20 years, died lastweek, with signs pointing to the death being a suicide. Much of the conversation surrounding this tragedy has focused on the emerging link between playing football, head trauma, and diminished quality of life among former players (including but not limited to suicide, dementia, chronic physical pain,and depression). Seau is not the first former player to take his life, though is the most prolific and high profile, bringing a much greater deal of attention than any of the prior cases.
My blegs are as follows:
For the medical professionals/experts amongst us, how confident are you that the link between football and the myriad of physical and emotional issues being ascribed to it is real? How much is concern mongering and/or sanctimony? What suggestions would you make to make the game safer? Would you let your child play?
For the legal professionals/experts amongst us, whether or not the link is real, what are the implications for the future of the NFL? Given that SOP for a long time was to shame guys into playing through the types of injuries that are now being scrutinized,what legal accountability does the NFL have to former players? Are the NFL or its teams/coaches at risk in either criminal or civil court?
And to the ethical professionals/experts amongst us (which I consider to be everyone here!), what does all of this mean? What are our obligations as fans? What are the obligations of the league and teams? What responsibility falls to the players? Does any of this impact your enjoyment of the game? Will you enjoy the game less if greater measures are taken to ensure player safety?