With the football regular season starting over this past weekend, both players and fans are ecstatic and anxious to get the season rolling. However, with the season beginning, also means the start of the many different forms of wear and tear these professional athletes will endure both during the season as well as after their careers are over. There is the obvious physical tolls the players bodies will take both in the present and in the future, but there are also the overall decline of the player’s mental health which leads to psychological tolls as well.
The first type of wear and tear are the most evident one, the decline of the players physical health. Just in the first week, key players for certain teams such as Dez Bryant for the Dallas Cowboys and Terrell Suggs from the Baltimore Ravens have gone down with injuries such as a broken foot and a torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL). These injuries will take time for the bodies to recover. These players will need anywhere from four weeks to a year to recover from these wounds. Some are even career ending injuries. The athletes who recover will never be the same player that they were prior to their injuries. Playing professional football equates to large amounts of pressure applied when flexing muscles during contact and pushing off when making a tackle which takes a tole on the body’s ligaments, joints, and muscles. These taxes endured on the player’s body during their career can also lead to major complications further into the player’s life such as during retirement. The constant strains on the player’s body, specifically their joints and ligaments, will lead to “severe arthritis and joint pain”(Livestrong.com). Overall, although watching and playing the game of football may be fun, players and fans should also take the physical tolls into consideration when watching or partaking in the sport.
There is also a price to pay in the form of psychological health for these athletes. An recent example would be the suicide of newest addition to the National Football Hall of Fame, Junior Seau. Seau was a pro bowl linebacker that spent his career playing for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots.
Seau was struck fear into his opponents hearts with his ability to run through players with his large build. However, Seau often lead his tackles with his head, which constantly caused him to be concussed, causing brain damage. Seau took his own life by shooting himself in the chest. Seau’s autopsy showed large amount of swelling in the brain as well as “dead spots” in locations that controlled his emotions. According to a Yahoo report, Seau “portrayed symptoms of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head,” (yahoo.com). CTE damages brain tissues and cause an abnormal about of protein called tau to be produced. Football players also have a significantly higher chance of obtaining brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. There are even player who are ending their careers early in order to maintain their health such as former linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, Chris Borland. Borland ended his career after his rookie season due to the release of studies from the Harvard Football Player Health studies done to retired players. Borland stated in an interview “…the injuries and potential brain damage that I could endure playing the sport is not worth any glory or pride obtained on the field.” For players to be backing out of playing in the National Football League in order to prevent brain injury, is a true eye opener to the amount of risk and danger that comes with playing the sport and should be taken under consideration for both current and future players.
So as one can see, although the sport of football is often viewed as the most entertaining sports in the United States, one should also view it as one of the more dangerous sports as well. The sport takes a large toll on the players’ bodies as well as their mental health. The physical injuries can cause one to never be the same physically, but more importantly mentally. Junior Seau is, sadly, one of the many cases of retired football players who have taken their life due to head injuries obtained during their time spent in the NFL. The sport may be fun to play, but one must always take certain precautions in order to prevent future injuries.