The growing controversy over NFL concussions and their subsequent lifelong effects has split the NFL fanbase into two camps. While some seem to feel that the attention to these injuries is long overdue, others see it as just another means for overpaid athletes to cash in after their retirement with lawsuits against the league.© 2012 Steelers Universe
Granted, it isn't easy for the average fan to sit by quietly and watch men, who received millions of dollars throughout their career, sue for even more money. The general mindset is that they entered into an agreement to play a violent game in return for high dividends. I mean, no one held a gun to their head, right?
The other camp seems more pragmatic in their assessment. They believe that, regardless of any foreknowledge as to the violence and possible injury that may occur, the NFL has an obligation to provide a post-career healthcare platform for any player that was forced into retirement because of injury, or to any player who suffers after retirement due to injuries obtained while playing.
Without going into the ethics and responsibilities of the parties involved, there is one thing that we should all be aware of.
There is a concentrated misinformation campaign being generated by the NFL machine to put themselves in the best possible light within the court of public opinion. They maintain a caring, hanky wringing, tearful concern over "hard hits" and the concussions that might result from those collisions, but their actions outside of carefully worded speeches and rehearsed press conferences reveal the hypocrisy of the Goodell regime.
The same league that has fined players exorbitant amounts of money for playing the game the way that it's been played for over 80 years still refuses to mandate the safer helmets that are readily available on the market. The same league that is changing the game into a powder-puff version of its former self to eliminate concussions is still denying health benefits to players forced out of the game due to, that's right, concussions.
The latest attempt to steer public opinion is a study, released by the NFL after the suicide death of Junior Seau, which shows that NFL players tend to live longer than men in the general population. Really? Men who have team-assigned dieticians and weight trainers, men who don't deal with the daily strife and stress of struggling to pay bills and meet a mortgage, men who are able to get away on relaxing exotic vacations, tend to live longer than the rest of us? Color me surprised.
The study has less to do with whether these men actually suffered debilitating injuries that haunt them into old age and/or send them into depression than it has to do with the mandated healthy lifestyle of the professional athlete. This is little more than a preemptive strike by the NFL to minimize any findings in the Junior Seau suicide. Think about that; regardless of the findings, before the body is even cold, the NFL is already setting the stage to show that they are in no way responsible. Damn the facts, this is about public perception, right?
Goodell is once again showing a propensity to put on his media face and attempt to convince the masses that he is taking the NFL into a brave new world, while actually playing the puppet for those owners who don't want to fairly discuss who is responsible for concussion-related prevention and post-playing career healthcare.
Regardless of what side we take regarding who is responsible for post-NFL injuries, we should all be able to agree that Goodell's shell games need to stop so that the real issues can be addressed.