We love athleticism. Week after week we observe athletes pour love for their sport on the field, track, court, stage, and media. From Meta to IG, Snapchat to YouTube, Clubhouse to FanBase, people share their love, disdain, and the controversy surrounding their favorite athletes. We get fascinated by the explosive, sometimes life-altering hits that come with certain sports.One of the most notorious of these sports is American Football. Some of the highlights of brain injury played out in the movie Concussion, starring Will Smith, who portrayed a forensic pathologist. There was an alleged plot by the National Football League to suppress his research findings on brain-related trauma due to sustained head injuries over time and the long-term impact on athletes.
Vincent Jackson, a decorated NFL veteran, was recently found deceased in his hotel room. The media would have us believe that alcoholism (chronic alcohol use) alone is the cause of his death without addressing the massive impact of head trauma the late Mr. Jackson sustained in his football career. According to the article referenced below, he was diagnosed with Stage 2 CTE in 2018. Can you imagine what Jackson, with his knowledge of what has happened to his colleagues, knew he was facing and the psychological warfare that comes with such a diagnosis? The NCBI lists Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE, which is also common amongst combat veterans, MMA, and boxers – though not sure why hockey isn’t mentioned) in three stages, Behavioral/psychiatric, cognitive, and motor. As you can see, the combination of the three all have an integral part
I want to make it clear that I am not a medical professional. What I do not desire is seeing Mr. Jackson’s legacy tarnished as another troubled NFL player without dealing with a holistic approach to his problems. I’m surely not saying that the NFL is responsible or culpable but we can’t deny the impact of head trauma that has increased instances of domestic violence, brain damage, physical trauma, and suicides. But, there is a responsibility here and the NFL has made changes to tactics and ways of hitting players that leverage heavy suspensions and fines for dangerous contact. Surely our combat veterans know this trauma due to IEDs on the battlefield. Surely, our young people in inner-city war zones know this from brain injuries caused by brutal beatings of gang violence and gunshot wounds. And our women, who are largely the victims of domestic violence experience symptoms or stages of CTE over time.
Once all the cheering stops, the media coverage fades, and life off the field happens, NFL athletes are often left with head trauma that impacts their eating, drinking, memory, motor functions, mental health, aggression, and domestic violence scenarios play out in the worse way. We champion brutal tackles, hard hits like battling rams, and clashing helmets all for glory. They leave their families millions and in shambles simultaneously. Billion-dollar sports associations should prioritize one thing over a Super Bowl and that is the human super soul that drives athletes to give their all for family, fans, and the industry.