Chronic Traumatic Encepathology, also known as CTE for short, is a progressive brain condition that is caused by repeated hits to the head and repeated concussions. It is a condition that is predominantly found in players of contact sports such as football and boxing. However, in this article, we will be focusing on the effects on football players.
The symptoms of CTE are extreme and cause long-lasting effects on the brains and behaviors of these players. They include difficulty thinking, impulsive behavior, depression, short-term memory loss, emotional instability, and suicidal thoughts or actions. Having CTE can make a person’s life a living hell and this can lead them to make bad decisions. Here are two examples of former NFL players and their experiences with CTE.
Aaron Hernandez was a tight end for the New England Patriots. He had great talent on the field but never made good decisions. Even when he played for the Florida Gators he was getting arrested or in fights.
In 2015 he was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was also indicted on a double murder charge but was acquitted of the crime. Days later, he was found dead in his cell. His death was ruled a suicide. Posthumously they did an exam on his brain and he was diagnosed with CTE. This diagnosis is believed to be the reasoning for his behavior.
Another case of CTE comes from Junior Seau. He played linebacker and he was also on the Patriots. On May 2, 2012, he shot himself in the chest and was declared dead. He shot himself in the chest so that they could examine his brain in hope of them finding research for CTE.
In July of 2017, there was a study concocted by Boston University on the brains of 111 former NFL players. They wanted to see the extent of CTE in NFL players. The results showed that out of 111 players, 110 of them had CTE to some degree. Lineman had the most in the case study with 44 of them having it. While kickers and punters had the least amount of instances. The study also showed that 87% of former football players had CTE. This consists of players from the NFL, College, Semi-Pro, and High School players. 27% causes of death for mild stage CTE patients were by suicide. Those with more severe forms of CTE, which was about 47% of the study had died from neurodegenerative related issues. The symptoms were related to Parkinson’s and dementia. Also, many players had displayed behavior or mood issues before they died.
The NFL insists on the safety of its players by instating rules to protect them. For example, no helmet-to-helmet hits, you can’t hit a defenseless player, and many rules and regulations are always changing for safety. Also, there are many advances in helmets for the offensive lineman. These men go head to head every play in the trenches and suffer a lot of head-to-head blows. That’s why they decided to make helmets that are safer and protect the players better than before.
But the way I see it is that no helmet can protect the inside of your head. You can protect your skull with a helmet but you can’t protect your brain from hitting up against your skull. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is constantly denying the correlation between CTE and football and he needs to wake up and smell the roses before it is too late.
Calvin Johnson is one of the most dominant receivers the NFL has seen. He exposed the Lions for making him play through concussions. He said that playing through concussions became normal to him. Kids are being taken or held out of football by their parents because they don’t want them to get head injuries, so the NFL needs to do a better job of spreading awareness of CTE within the community. Having knowledge and awareness of CTE not only benefits the professionals but also allows these kids to get the opportunity to play football if parents see the NFL taking serious precautions.
I believe that CTE is a really big issue. There needs to be more medical treatment for these players because look at what is happening to them. It just goes to show that you can have all the money in the world but still not have anything. I think that if the NFL spreads more awareness with CTE then we can start to find solutions to these problems. Playing football for almost my entire life I have had numerous concussions. Seeing what has happened to these players almost makes me worried about what will happen to me and the kids I’ve played with in the future.