Mark Radcliffe tries to sort out his opinion of the recent concussions lawsuit filed by ex-players against the NFL.
It was recently announced that 2000 NFL players are suing the NFL for not warning them enough against the long-term dangers of concussions in the sport they play.
I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it.
On the one hand, sure, I’d like to think we all have the right to full disclosure about our workplace risks from our employer.
And I’m tempted to salute the players for admitting they’re not supermen. That they’re not invincible, can be injured, and need help.
And if the NFL actually did conceal evidence, and routinely advise players to get back in the game when they weren’t actually “fine,” then there’s clearly an exploitation issue.
But another side of me says: Well, guys: You signed up to play professional football. It’s a blatantly violent sport by nature. Did you think you were playing a game of hopscotch? Don’t pretend you didn’t know what you were getting into. You were all paid very handsomely because of the risks you were taking with your bodies. I’m not sure you can have it both ways—accept the money for the risk, then when the risk doesn’t work out your way, demand to be made whole. Would pro boxers file a lawsuit like this? Race car drivers? Clearly, I’m blurring the lines here, and these careers each have their own unique circumstances, but my question is one of accountability: who’s to blame when you’re knowingly entering a career with great physical risks?
I’d have a bit more sympathy for the coal miners working in a toxic mine, unaware of the less obvious effects of the air they were breathing, being exploited by a corporation for relatively low wages. But NFL players get a life of glory, riches and excess for the dangers of their sport. I guess I thought that was part of the deal: Yes, you’ll live like a king. But It might not last forever.
Being an NFL player is laced with various notions of what it is to be a man. One of those is steeped in an ethic of toughness, of taking a beating and getting up and doing it again. And not complaining when it hurts. But another part of being a man is taking a stand and making you’re not playing a sucker’s game, having something taken from you you didn’t know was on the line. And perhaps that’s what’ happening here. The recent suicides of Junior Seau and Ray Easterling—both who shot themselves in the chest so their brains could be analyzed for research—are certainly an alarm bell for the sport.
Where do you net out on the issue?
Photo by: Gaspa