As the College Football Playoff Committee caused a stir this weekend with its somewhat controversial picks of the teams that will be a part of the new College Football Playoff, last week we were somberly reminded, once again, of the physical toll that football-related concussions can take on players.
Last Sunday, Ohio State football player Kosta Karageorge, who was missing for four days, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot. Karageorge sent his mother an ominous text message before he went missing that said, “Sorry if I am an embarrassment, but these concussions have my head all F—- up.”
Karageorge’s brain will now be studied to see if there are any signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head trauma (concussions), and it can only be diagnosed after death. Many deceased former football players have been diagnosed post-mortem with CTE, including Junior Seau, Jovan Belcher, and Ray Easterling.
Although Karageorge was a college athlete and never played in the NFL, the NFL has a black eye over how it handled the research it had over the last fifteen years regarding concussions. Despite many studies showing the negative impacts of concussions, the NFL repeatedly denied the validity of the research. However, when the players finally sued the NFL, the NFL balked and quickly came to a proposed settlement. It certainly seems like the NFL had a smoking gun about purposefully hiding the effects of concussions, that it did not want the world to see if the litigation continued. However, the NFL says that it is now focused on player health and has changed its rules regarding concussed players.
The NCAA soon followed the NFL’s example and added targeting penalties and stricter concussion protocols for universities to follow. However, concussions still remain a problem in football, and universities have not enforced the stricter guidelines. Earlier this fall, Michigan quarterback Shane Morris was allowed to return to a game after sustaining a concussion, which was easily recognizable to any fan watching the game. Although Morris wobbled about and clearly acted in a woozy manner, no coach, team doctor, or trainer called for Morris to leave the field.
All of this goes to show that despite the NFL and NCAA trying to show a firm stance on concussions, they both have far to go to protect players from the negative effects of concussions. No parent should ever get a message from their child about wanting to end their life because their mind is messed up from concussions.
If you or someone you know has been affected by concussions, please contact our firm.