Wednesday, February 6, 2013

NFL and G.E. Partnership: First Step in Protecting the players

         With the NFL season officially ending last Sunday night, most sports fan will immediately turn their attention to the distractions that is their local teams in the other major sports, i.e. hockey and basketball. Despite the season having ended, the NFL will continue to make headlines during the offseason, and not for incoherent Ray Lewis rants or dramatic fire and brimstone filled speeches about destiny. Instead, the NFL is making headlines with their recent partnership with major fortune 500 company G.E. whose combined efforts will be focused on the epidemic of head trauma that is plaguing football.
         Robert Goodell, NFL commissioner announced the partnership with G.E. last week and used it as an opportunity to spread the message that this partnership is exactly the boost needed to facilitate major growth in the understanding, prevention, and diagnosing of trauma related brain injuries. In recent years the steady increase in the number of concussions can be matched by the leagues efforts to help reduce the risk of concussion and later brain damage caused by repetitive trauma. Within the last few years at least two former NFL players, Chris Henry  and Junior Seau, premature deaths were found to be directly related to their brain trauma.
        The brain trauma found in both players shows brain tissue damage caused by repetitive blows to the head. In the case of Chris Henry in particular, whose brain was donated to science to study, it was found that he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. In CTE brain tissue starts to deteriorate from the brain smashing against its protective casing of the skull, your basic concussion. However, in CTE the damage becomes so severe that an individual may show symptoms of dementia, aggression, depression, and confusion. The reasoning behind CTE's effect on the brain is that the trauma allows for a continual accumulation of tau proteins in the brain. Tau proteins are highly stabilized microtubule found in the axons of neurons located in the brain. In CTE an abundance of damaged and functioning tau proteins occurs and causes the above mentioned symptoms. The build up tau proteins interferes with the normal function of the brain neurons, and as a result has caused brain damage in those who suffer from CTE.
        Clearly playing profession football carries a risk much larger then simply breaking a bone or tearing an ACL, the constant hits to the heads of NFL players is proving to be the most serious part of the sport. With a class action lawsuit looming overhead, it is good to see the NFL putting serious effort into the study of concussions and the brain damage it can cause later in life. However, one can help but wonder if this done as a genuine concern for the NFL's cash crop of talented athletes off which the owners make billions, or as a way to for NFL to protect their own skin.
 Bryan Cohoon


  1. Do you think that the NFL's recent public concern for it's players with regards to traumatic brain injuries will have a positive effect on younger players of contact sports? Playing hockey in high school, I know I suffered from at least one concussion (as did many players I know). However, I don't feel like adequate concern is often given to young players who suffer from these types of injuries (e.g. take it easy for a game, then get back on the field). Do you think more of an effort should be made to make younger players and coaches more aware of the risks their players face? And do you think organizations like the NFL should make a point of spearheading this effort (e.g. by sharing the results of this scientific research with younger players)? I realize that this is a difficult problem, since occasional injuries of these types are bound to happen in these sports, and I don't necessarily want to discourage potential players.

    Posted by Sean McDougall

  2. Has there been any research that has been done to develop safer equipment for professional players to ensure that they are being taken care of on and eventually off the field? Is the the new relationship between the NFL and G.E. meant to strictly just raise awareness of the dangers of professional football or are they working together to create new and safer equipment as well?

    Kimberly Ty (3)

    1. The partnership for G.E. and NFL is meant to improve overall player safety. It is mentioned that the partnership will pursue not only advances in the treatment and understanding of brain injuries, but in ways to prevent future injuries as well by attempting to improve current equipment and research possible new safer alternatives.

      (Bryan Cohoon)

  3. Good news to hear that there's a potential for the game to get safer. Hopefully the partnership can result in some safer equipment for the players so that career ending injuries are minimal. It's a shame to see players not telling coaches about the severity of their concussions and having to suffer even worse injuries later in their career. Below is a link to an article that shows why this GE/NFL partnership is much needed:

    Posted by Poya Jafari

    1. Thank you for posting the link to that article, it was a perfect companion for my topic. It is also interesting to note that the average span of a professional football players career is only six and half years. I wonder how much that is related to the injuries suffered or the approach and action teams, players, and the leagues take towards career ending injuries.

  4. This article really helps to point out the behind-the-scenes of football that half the people watching at home don't have a clue about. The old days started out with just a leather helmet, now with bigger player they have better padding, but it still means bigger hits. Players in today's football are receiving tons of problems from all the contact they have, and most keep it from their coaches to gain another hour or two on the field; but the one question i've always had was is one's life worth a little extra money? I hope somebody's making advances in sensor technology to monitor fatigue and impact players are taking, maybe like putting siring in the pads and helmet or something.

    Nick Mulone