The game of football has changed in many ways including the pass heavy offenses and the types of plays run on both sides of the ball. One of the most important changes, though, is the focus on player safety and the steps the league takes to make the game safer. Many current and former players are filing law suits against the NFL for the fact that they have not only received concussions but most likely permanent brain damage. Some of these head injuries can tragically lead to Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. The players feel as if they were not given enough warning about the risk of the game and or enough information about safety precautions, and others feel as if the league was just using them to make money and does not actually care.
Two-thousand players unified in 2012 in a lawsuit against the NFL. Some of them included Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon, and the family of Pro Bowl linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2013. In August 2013, the players agreed to $765 million dollar settlement. Many of these players have been diagnosed after death with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Recently Frank Gifford, former New York Giants running back/ receiver, passed away on Aug. 9, 2015 from CTE, and his body was donated by his family in hopes of learning more about these types of injuries and how to treat and prevent them in the future.
The game of football is a very physical game and will unfortunately never be one-hundred percent safe. The head hits have been reduced because of the rule against hitting directly to the head. Previously, this rule only applied to receivers. In college football, players who hit in the head are ejected and will most likely face huge fines. In college this is known as targeting and if a player is caught doing this, then they will be ejected immediately. Another rule in college football states that when a player loses his helmet, he have to sit out the next play in college, and in the NFL the play is whistled dead immediately.
As the years go by, the game will keep evolving in every way. The league will have to do its part by stepping up and developing rules and regulations to keep the players safe. As more players are treated and examined, more rules will be put in place. More regulations will hopefully will have a positive effect on players and make the game better for everyone. This Christmas, the new movie “Concussion”, starring Will Smith, will be set in Pittsburgh and focus on an accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu who will uncover the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.
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