The Football Head Injury Crisis

Millions of people look forward to watching the Super Bowl every year. It is the biggest NFL game night for fans around the world and most likely, it never occurs to one that there is a football head injury crisis among the sport. However, there is a growing scientific concern between head injuries in football and brain disease. Evidence of the correlation between the two prompted Paul Tagliabue, NFL Commissioner, to create the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee and appoint Dr. Elliot Pellman, New York Jets Team Doctor and Rheumatologist, as chair.

Dr. Pellman went on record with Newsday stating “they” discuss brain injuries in every league meeting along with knee injuries, and the use of steroids, drugs and alcohol. He also told Sports Illustrated concussions are par for the course and an occupational risk in the National Football League.

In 1993, Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, stated he could not remember a game after landing in the hospital from taking a knee to the head during an NFC Championship game. He reported to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “I didn’t know what planet I was on.” Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered chronic encephalopathy (CTE) during and autopsy of a former professional football player, and was the first expert connecting catastrophic brain trauma to football. In December of 2015, Dr. Omalu went on record with Time Magazine stating he believes 90% of professional players have some degree of CTE. Simply put, that number is alarming and the NFL is on the edge of a crisis.

In February of 1995, star quarterbacks’ agent Leigh Steinberg held a seminar on the effects of players where a panel of medical experts described the effects, symptoms and dangers of head injuries. Gary Plummer, San Diego Charger player told The Press Enterprise “By their standards, I must’ve had 200 concussions.”

In March 1997, the American Academy of Neurology went on record saying repetitive concussions can cause brain damage, and suggested players exhibiting any concussion symptoms or losing consciousness for 15-minutes post injury be removed from the game. After struggling with cognitive issues for years, in April of 1999, Mike Webster claimed football was the reason for his dementia when filing his disability application with the NFL Retirement Board.

American teen’s participation in school level football has dropped from 1.13 million in 2008 – 2009, to 1.08 million in 2014 – 2015; fear of brain injuries may be slowly lowering the number of participants in the sport. Evidence that more and more parents are hesitant to allow their children to participate in the sport in fear of head trauma is clear. At the same time, however, youth participation in American soccer seems to be on the rise, growing 8% in the five years leading up to 2014.

Whether playing the sport at a school age level, or an NFL professional football player, there is high risk of personal injuries and head trauma associated with the sport. There is clear evidence the football head injury crisis is real. If you live in New York and you or your child has a football related injury, we strongly recommend you speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Dansker & Aspromonte today to find out what your legal options are. We can help you recover the damages you have a right to.

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