Tor Constantino looks at the NFL’s attempt to demonstrate concern for player safety regarding Ebola but not the concussions suffered by up to 30% of players on average.
Earlier this week there were several media reports that infectious disease consultants for the NFL drafted and distributed a letter to the athletic trainers and physicians of each team regarding risks of Ebola infection.
The letter to the teams stressed that the risk of infection for Ebola was much lower than other communicable diseases due to the findings that Ebola can only be spread via physical contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual.
The full text of the letter was made available to media outlets by Duke University.
The health experts who drafted the letter also stressed that while Ebola is a real threat it has been sensationalized by the media and that the average individual who does not administer care to Ebola patients has a greater chance of being struck by lightning than from getting the disease.
The League has stressed that the letter was intended only as an informational resource in light of revelations this week that Ebola infected health workers from Dallas, had since travelled to Ohio and Atlanta where a handful of NFL teams are based.
Additionally, the New York Giants are in Dallas to play the Cowboys this weekend and both organizations have been thoroughly briefed on the virus.
Given the high-profile coverage generated by the Ebola virus during the past two weeks, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the League felt compelled to have a letter drafted in the interest of player safety.
While the Ebola risk is real, it is very small for players in the NFL. Additionally, there are several other more serious health threats that have been shoved aside as a result of the hyped-up Ebola coverage of late.
It makes you wonder about the real and very large risk to professional football players when it comes to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Did the NFL ever draft a newsletter about CTE and share it with teams before it was sued by former players?
I’m a big fan of the NFL but despite the settlement of class-action claims regarding head trauma, the League has never admitted any wronging doing regarding CTE or withholding research findings about the long-term effects of repeated blunt force trauma to the head that players experience routinely.
Here are the most recent statistics from the NFL:
- 2012 –261 diagnosed concussions during preseason and regular-season practices and games combined.
- 2013 –228 diagnosed concussions during preseason and regular-season practices and games combined.
Even though there’s been a year-over-year decline in diagnosed concussions based on the NFL’s numbers, recent studies have found that as much as 30 percent of total NFL players—that’s more than 550 players—still get concussions despite better equipment, education, stiffer in-game penalties and higher off-the-field monetary fines for blows to the head.
The point of this article is that while it seems to be a good thing that the NFL took the initiative to educate all its medical personnel regarding the unlikely risk from Ebola this week, you would think they would be issuing similar communiqués every week to teams about the real ongoing concussive injuries that its players actually experience.