The NFL has yet to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with brain injuries sustained by veterans, and continues to push plans to expand the season to 18 games. Besides continuing to make the NFL record book meaningless, a longer schedule’s effect on player health doesn’t seem to be under consideration by the league at all. Joe Starkey in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a good column today:
“The season is too long already. No amount of bye weeks or reduction of offseason conditioning can make up for subjecting players to two more games.
Steelers president Art Rooney II declined comment on the issue, but be sure of this: If any franchise should be vigorously protesting an expanded season, it’s the Steelers, who have seen several former players — Mike Webster, Terry Long, Justin Strzelczyk, Paul Martha, to name four — lose their quality of life on account of brain damage. Their two best current players, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu, have sustained multiple concussions.
The question of whether football-related collisions cause dementia, depression and worse remains disputed in the medical community, though evidence is increasing. At the very least, the NFL should refrain from adding more games until it sees more research. And it has to consider the stunning scientific studies already performed.
One of those, conducted by the West Virginia University-affiliated Brain Injury Research Institute, determined that deceased Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry had a form of degenerative brain damage caused by multiple hits to the head. Henry was one of more than a dozen NFL and college players found with the condition.”