Even if it’s a popular sport, football isn’t for the faint of heart. Playing it takes practice, skill, coordination, and raw talent — and even if a would-be player has what it takes, that only means he’s earned the right to get tackled with the force of a runaway train. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone, then, that there are some lasting effects on pro football players. Some of them are even less pleasant than expected.
Studies conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University revealed that eighty-seven out of ninety-one deceased NFL players tested positive for CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It’s a degenerative disease that, as the name implies, is the result of repetitive head traumas; memory loss, depression, and dementia are common symptoms. The irony is that it doesn’t take a handful of bone-breaking blows to do the necessary damage — because minor injuries over time can cause it just as easily. Given that, it’s a clear sign that the pros of the past aren’t the only ones in danger.
Further examination suggests that a huge number of players — professional or otherwise — are either at risk of CTE or are already suffering from it. Ninety-six percent of the players the two organizations tested had the disease, which doesn’t bode well for any team’s prospects off the field. The NFL has promised that advances are made to protect its players, but time will tell if they can help prevent any more traumas — or if it’s just an inevitability of the game.