Are Concussions and Injuries Too Common in Football?

Just last week we learned the Wes Welker, of the Denver Broncos, has suffered his third concussion in less than two years. Most people remember the playoff “helmet” that Wes Welker wore during the Super Bowl run in early 2014. If you were under a rock, here is what it looked like:

wes-welker-concussion-helmet

Photo Credit

As you can clearly see, the concussion helmet on the left has a significant amount of padding around the skull. While some fans made fun of this, and referenced Spaceballs, it was 100% necessary for Welker’s health. Unfortunately, in the 2014 NFL Preseason, Wes Welker has suffered another concussion, even with the special helmet.

This makes many diehard sports fans wonder about the future of football. We don’t hear of as many concussion or injury cases in high school or college, but I can assure you that they happen. We don’t hear about them on a broader scale because all of the games are not on TV and it is not a billion dollar industry like the NFL. I have yet to crunch the numbers but I would argue that more players are getting injured at the high school and college level as they are still learning how to play the sport.

Coming from a very small town that is football infatuated I have seen how the coaches are negligent in their duty to protect players. When I was a senior in high school I was on the football team. I went through all of spring and summer practice without missing a single rep. In fact, I was one of only eight players that was going to get to have my last name on my jersey because I did not miss a single practice play. It is safe to say I have a little bit of an obsessive type personality but that is another article for another time. I was a running back and a cornerback as we played both ways in my small town.

When going against the second string defensive line in a preseason practice a 280 pound lineman fell on my leg and bent it sideways. At the time I was not aware of the dangers of an ACL or MCL tear. Fortunately, there was no tear, but it was a very painful injury. Instead of having the medical staff look at my leg, or sending me to a local hospital, the coaches told me to rub some dirt on it and sit a few plays out. After a few hours I knew something was wrong.

I am not the type of person to complain about a few bumps and bruises. This was much more than a bump or a bruise. I remember driving home and not being able to feel my leg below my shin. I went down to the river, before getting home, and put my leg in the water hoping the cold water would “fix it”. While it helped there was still something very wrong. I decided to suck it up and go to practice the next day.

At practice I went back to return a punt, caught the punt, planted and immediately went to the turf. I had absolutely zero power in my leg. I was an all state track runner at the time so this was not good. In fact, my track coach told me to take the precautionary steps to make certain I was ready for track season in the fall as I had a chance to earn a scholarship to run at the college level. As I lay on the ground. with my leg in severe pain, all I could think about was my track career being over.

My coaches ran out to me and helped me off the field. There was no medical assistance. There was no precautions taken. I had to sit there the rest of practice in pain. That was it. I was never going to play football again. I had had enough. These coaches were completely oblivious to my health and my track future. They just wanted me on their team because I was the faster person in western North Carolina and they thought I could help them win the first state championship since 1992.

I was able to get out of a tough situation by simply walking away. Many young kids and even adults cannot do this. They feel as if they must continue to play football as it is the only way out or it is a part of their culture. David Azizi, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, completed a video with me on the negative outcome of a concussion or football injury. You can watch the full video here:

In the video, Mr. Azizi discusses a coach being negligent and not looking out for a player that is obviously wearing a helmet that has not been pumped up correctly. Suffering a single concussion can make life much more difficult. The brain is a very sensitive part of the body and with young men throwing their heads into each other it stands to reason that some are going to get hurt, badly.

After suffering three concussions I feel as if it is time for Wes Welker to hang it up. Rather than trying to get through a few more years he would be better off going to the broadcast booth and making his money that way. As Colin Cowherd said on The Herd last week, it is fine if Welker wants to continue to play but he does not need to be filing a class action lawsuit years down the road. He knows the consequences of going out onto the field on Sunday afternoons. If he wants to put himself in danger that is his choice. The NFL has done everything in their power to help make the game safer.

What do you think can be done to make football a safer sport? They have taken out low hits and targeting to the head or neck. What else can be done? Is football just too vicious of a sport?

Categories: College Football

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