Football suffers from a concussion problem. Then again, so does women’s soccer and men’s hockey.
However, professional football remains the country’s most popular sport (at least for now), so the NFL’s concussion problem gets the most attention.
“Going into the sport, we knew these were kind of the risks we were taking as players,” Jets receiver Eric Decker told Breitbart Sports.
Decker finds himself in the middle of a five-year $36.25 million contract he signed with the Jets on March 12, 2014. So he’s very well-compensated for the risk. He underwent surgery earlier this week on a torn rotator cuff after enduring a procedure on his hip last month. The Jets placed him on injured reserve in October.
Surgery number 2! Doin this now so he’s recovered and ready just in time for next season ❤️ good luck to my sweet man! pic.twitter.com/eOUNOfAv05
— Jessie James Decker (@JessieJDecker) November 15, 2016
The 29-year-old nevertheless feels somewhat lucky. Through all his injuries over the course of his football career from high school in Cold Spring, Minnesota, to the University of Minnesota to the NFL, concussions haven’t been a big problem. At least he thinks.
“I have only been diagnosed with one concussion, but what’s the definition of a concussion? I have been hit at times where you get a little fuzzy and then you see the stars, but then five second later you’re fine,” Decker told Breitbart Sports. “I haven’t really had loss of memory or those issues that come with concussions, but either way if you are getting hit, or you are hitting someone, you worry about what the consequences are going to be in the future and is it going to affect you emotionally, you mentally down the road how those things come into effect.”
The NFL has come a long way in diagnosing and treating concussions. In 1980s, trainers treated concussed players with smelling salts, and put them back in games. Now, they err on the side of caution, keeping players out extra time, just to be safe.
For instance, Carolina Panthers left tackle, Michael Oher, whose life story gets told in the movie Blindside, has been out the last two months with a concussion. Until you ace a battery of neurological and mental tests, NFL teams will not let you back on the field.
More attention and money supports concussion research.
Researchers at Boston University claim they are on the brink of developing a blood test to diagnose concussions. This week, Pittsburgh Steelers team President, Art Rooney II, announced the establishment of The Chuck Noll Foundation for Brain Injury Research, to support science into the treatment of sports-related concussions. The Steelers’ organization donated $1 million to get the foundation up and running. In September, the NFL pledged $100 million for an initiative to help prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries.
So while there are always going to be concussions in football, the sport is certainly in a much better position than it’s ever been in terms of treating head injuries.
“The biggest thing is what are we going to do to prevent some of those and help recover from those traumatic injures,” Decker said. “It’s one of the issues now that is being talked about and being brought to light. It’s always been an issue. When you play a physical game you are going to have concussions, you are going to have head trauma injuries. The biggest thing is the communication lines between the NFL and players association and what the research is saying and doing, and how to best protect the players and the shield in that sense.”