Thursday, May 3, 2012

NFL deaths

With the recent death of former San Diego linebacker Junior Seau, sports writers and media pundits are again bringing up the dangers of football, specifiably the dangers of repeated head trauma. Many former NFL players, including a group lead by former Cowboy and hall of famer Randy White, have filed lawsuits against the NFL looking for damages.

I am not a lawyer, but I cannot possibly see what case these players have. It seems obvious to me that if you have a lot of concussions or head injuries it could lead to some problems down the road. Are the players not smart enough to figure this out for themselves? I know medical science wasn't as advanced in the 60's and 70's as it is now, but I don't think it takes too much medical knowledge to come to the conclusion that repeated blows to the head are not good for your health.

 Junior Seau came out of retirement twice to play football again. Was he not smart enough to understand the risks? Or did he know about them and decide that the benefit was greater than the cost? If it is the latter, and I think it likely is, then the NFL is no more responsible for his death than a city is for the death of one their police officers who dies in the line of duty. There are known risks to the job, and if a competent adult chooses the occupation of a pro football player they are accepting those risks. Are MMA fighters going to get to sue the MMA in 25 years when former fighters start developing problems?

Former players coming back to sue the NFL are in my opinion saying that they were too ignorant, or perhaps too stupid, to understand what they were doing when they played in the NFL. This seems like a dangerous road, and if a judge sides with them then we are moving onto a slippery slope of adults not being responsible for the actions they take. It is bad enough when lifetime smokers win cases against tobacco companies (wait, you didn't think inhaling smoke into your lungs would be a bad thing?). If football players start winning too, jobs that are not fundamentally necessary and are risky, like playing pro football, may not exist. Perhaps that is not a bad thing, but it is something to think about.

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