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Cowhisperer 1 Cowhisperer Professor (Redacted) Composition 1 23 October 2013 Delay, Deny, and Hope they Die Concussions are

a problem. They are life-altering injuries, and have been around much longer than people have been aware of them. Since the beginnings of the game of football, there have been people getting their bell rung. Only recently have we understood the severity of football-related head injuries, like concussions. However, even with this recent race to arms that concussions have induced among the public and the NFL, the evasive maneuvers the NFL has used to avoid taking any responsibility in the case are abominable. A group of more than 4,400 retired NFL players have agreed to a settlement of $765 million outside of court with the National Football League- a case in which the players claimed to have suffered concussions under the NFLs watch during their playing careers. Independent doctors and fund administrators agreed upon by both parties are expected to evaluate who in the group actually qualifies to receive part of the settlement. When all numbers are finalized, and the settlement begins to pay out to the former players, 50 percent will be received over the course of the first three years, and the remainder will be dispensed over the next 17 years following (Heitner). To start, an important point should be discussed up front in the interest of full disclosure. The NFL has not been supporting its former players health concerns much at all; in fact, they have been shown to avoid such assistance in the past. In a way, the NFLs attitude toward former players could be described as Delay, Deny, and Hope They Die (Dwyre). Part of the blame should lie with the NFL itself, for not being proactive in wanting to help keep their former investments healthy once they reach the ripe old ages of 35 to 40. And part of the blame, perhaps more than half, should be placed squarely in

Cowhisperer 2 the lap of the NFL Players Association, which purportedly recognizes the rights of current and former players for not demanding more compensation for their former employers. However, none of that should justify the NFL fighting the recent concussion lawsuit mounted by former players considering what has and is about to come to light against the NFL. First off, the players themselves did not know what a concussion was back in the day, as evidenced from this quote from former New York Jets running back, Bruce Harper: I was knocked out three times during my career, completely knocked out, I went out there and played again, but I didn't realize I was having problems with my head until they brought this (concussion issues) up. Harper played for eight years in the NFL, from 1977 to 1984 (Fierro). Neither the NFL nor the players knew about concussions or their severity back in the day. Before the 1990s, there really was no concern over getting your bell rung. Thats fine, if the scientific community didnt know about it, how can we expect the NFL to take any precautions to fight something from happening? No, the problem doesnt occur until the late 90s when concussion-related news began to come to light and recent evidence shows the NFL conducted its own pseudo-science in order to refute all the real claims of danger made by actual scientists regarding concussions in the NFL. The results of the NFLs tests downplayed any significance of head injuries, and past that, the League openly ridiculed any scientists that concluded the opposite, who are now proven to be correct. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease which can only definitively be diagnosed postmortem, most frequently occurring in people with multiple concussions in their lifetime. Research on CTE really has only begun, as not many players that are from this hard-nosed era of football have gotten old enough to pass away yet, but many who have, have been diagnosed with it. In fact, its a significant proportion, all but two of the 54 brains studied by Doctor Ann Mckee since 2005, when the disease was first officially diagnosed, had CTE (Van Natta).

Cowhisperer 3 On the flip side, an important point to understand about the game of football is that it, like all professional crafts, do not just begin their first day on the job. Like most every other job, people spend a good portion of their lives working to achieve their goals, working to be the best, but that takes time! For many players, football begins as young as seven or eight years old, and continues every fall until they graduate from high school. After that period, the pool of players narrows significantly to only those who are talented enough to play for a university. Finally, once a player leaves college to enter into the NFL draft to potentially begin his pay-for-play career, only then has he reached his goal. Following the most common format (given above), it would take a player 14 or 15 years to reach the NFL once he started playing at a young age. The argument in this context is that most players would receive significantly less attention to their health before they reached the NFL, so who is to say that a player didnt receive most, if not all of his concussions before he ever reached the NFL? This is important to understand, because it is not as if the NFL is the sole cause of all the head injuries that occur in people that play football, it just so happens to be the end goal, and most prevalent point in a players career. The lawsuit was settled outside of court for the already mentioned amount of $765 million to be distributed among the 4,400 players, barring any unforeseen circumstances. The problem here is the reason that the lawsuit was settled outside of court for, the NFL recognized that many of these former players were in severe monetary and health trouble. Many needed financial assistance as soon as they could get it, because of their ever-increasing treatment costs. The NFL settled outside of court because they were actively trying to avoid a much larger payout that would have likely been the verdict has the lawsuit actually been pushed through our legal system. This is morally wrong. It would be different if the NFL was trying to help out these former players in other ways, instead of giving the least amount of assistance possible. It would be very different also, if the NFLPA actually supported and represented its former players interests when negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. But neither of these

Cowhisperer 4 occurred. In one of the most lucrative businesses in the sports industry, all parties involved are going down the path of least resistance, in order to save their own skins. The point is not that the NFL is or is not at fault for the health and wellness of its very own former investments, the point is that the NFL and the NFLPA are doing their utmost to keep a lid on the concussion drama. If either one of these two organizations would step up, and truly represent these people, then this lawsuit would never have existed in the first place, there would have been no need for it. But instead, the NFL and NFLPA continue to try to downplay the effects of concussions on players despite more and more evidence being levied against these unsupported claims. But go ahead, NFL, keep flexing your strength, show us how strong you are. Give it a few years, there wont be any more denying. These players deserve more support, and whether you choose to help or not, sooner or later, there will be heavy evidence against you, and it will no longer be your choice to make. Stop delaying, stop denying, the time is now.