I spent over a decade covering NCAA and NFL football, and I loved every minute of it…until I was assigned a story on Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and concussions. What I learned from researchers (including those hired by the NFL) was so disturbing, I’ve never written another football article again. And I haven’t been able to watch a game either. It is disturbing to see the damaging hits happening in real time, because I know that these hits are a death sentence.
As the daughter of an NFL player, I was disgusted to learn that the league has been aware of the danger to players’ brains for years. According to scientists including Chris Nowinski of the Boston University CTE Center, unless you can change the law of gravity, it’s impossible to keep the brain from sloshing against the side of the skull when collisions occur. And when the brain (which is the consistency of butter) sloshes around, it causes damage. Concussion not required!
Statistics show that most players have already taken thousands of damaging hits before they even enter the NFL. Those that make it to the NFL will need every penny they earn to use for the extensive medical care they will require after retirement. Here’s why: The thousands of pre-concussive hits players take cause a brown protein, called Tau, from the spinal column to release into the brain. This protein is a foreign invader that is never supposed to leave the spinal column and spreads a deadly, brown, tangled web of mass destruction. That Tau causes the devastating brain disease dubbed “CTE.”
Cutting edge medical technologies have now made it possible to identify brain tau in living players. But no remedies exist for those currently suffering.
I pray that God will give scientists the knowledge to provide help to the retired gladiators that now suffer the torture of CTE. May the Lord be with the families of those who are watching their loved ones decline in health. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. No amount of money should be worth your brain. I asked my dad if he would have played if he’d known the dangers. He said, “No way! That would be stupid to knowingly cause damage to my brain.” Spoken like a smart Stanford graduate! Knowledge is power. Every parent of a youth player, and every fan who purchases tickets, should take pause and look at the facts of this dangerous sport.