Is the risk worth the reward?

Luke Johnson

After spending 20 seasons in the NFL Junior Seau captured a legacy as one of the games greatest line backers, and was a force of nature on the field. But after committing suicide by gunshot to the chest last May, some proposed that the 43-year-old was saving his brain fir for future research that was damaged by the game he loved.

Five brain specialists consulted by the National Institute of Health concluded that he suffered from the type of severe brain damage that was found in dozens of deceased players, a disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.

CTE is caused by repetitive blows to the head and leads to dementia, memory loss, and depression. In December, Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Javon Belcher gunned down his girlfriend, the mother of their 3-year-old son, before driving to the team’s practice facility and shooting himself in the head in front of Head Coach Romeo Crennel.

This murder-suicide incident reminds me of professional wrestler Chris Benoit’s double murder-suicide in 2007. Over a three-day period Beniot murdered his wife and strangled their 7-year-old son before hanging himself in their Fayetteville, Georgia home. Both tragedies have been linked to possible brain damage.

The NFL currently has lawsuits from over 4,000 former players and 1,500 families of deceased players, alleging that the league ignored and denied the long-term risk of continuous head injuries.

When I look at the number of lawsuits I question the actual motive behind all of them. This illness is something that is very serious, and should not be taken lightly. I hope future medicine can aid these individuals that have been mentally wounded, but when I look at that number I see a bunch of grown men not accepting or embracing responsibility they accepted when they put on the pads.

Even with this newly spread knowledge of health, I do not think any of the plaintiffs would have quit playing football. The reason I say that is because I do not see any modern day players quitting today.

Los Medanos College defensive back Greg Arroyos said, “I don’t think I would have played the game any differently. I was brought up and taught only one way to play this game, and that was to be very physical and go 110 percent.”

Arroyos said he has suffered over six head injuries with four of them being concussions, but insists he has no worries of ever having CTE. He also does not feel adequate with the former players’ lawsuits against the NFL.

“I think that it is stupid that they are suing. They knew that football was and is a dangerous sport. It comes with consequences like everything else. They knew the risks of the game and they still decided to play. No one forced these athletes to play in the NFL. It was a decision they made on their own,” added Arroyos.

Arroyos is right. This is a high risk, high reward business that these athletes chose to play. Nobody chose for them.

Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the nation, because people love seeing collisions.

They don’t want to see people die from it obviously, but there still has to be an element of violence.

Even when today’s athletes get hurt, some of them try to hide it. Multiple professional players have come forth and admitted that they tried to cover up an injury to keep their jobs.

Many saw what happened to Alex Smith earlier this season. He was having the best year of his career. Then after sustaining a concussion he was replaced by the less experienced and more explosive Collin Kaepernick, and officially lost a starting position.

Now Kaepernick and the 49ers are headed to Superbowl XLVII.

So how do we solve this issue? Can Riddell build a better helmet? Maybe, I hope so. But what can we do in the meantime? Many future athletes depend on it.