The Seattle Seahawks gave the world a heck of a game Sunday night. Now it’s time for the 12th Man and all football viewers to give a little something back. How about some attention on the issue of traumatic brain injuries among current and former football players?
Not to be a Debbie Downer in the midst of this town’s post-Super Bowl euphoria, but this is a good time to praise Seahawks owner Paul Allen for investing in traumatic brain injury (TBI) research here in Seattle. Read this Nov. 20, 2013 Seattle Times news story on Allen’s $2.4 million donation toward research. Shortly after, the editorial board published this opinion:
By emulating the latest investment, other NFL owners would stand to gain value and credibility with fans who increasingly care about balancing game-time thrills and the long-term health of athletes.
In a Jan. 31 Forbes.com Q&A, Allen reiterated that he is working closely with the league:
We’ve talked extensively with the league about the kind of research that should be done and that we want to do. We’ve specialized until now on the genetic characteristics of brains and how cells are affected by different conditions. Now we’re going to get some brain tissue from a bunch of different sources. You can have concussion trauma from all sorts of things, like IEDs in Iraq and motorcycle accidents. We’re going to look at some of this tissue and see how it differs from some of the tissue we’ve already scanned and have in our data banks to see how genetic characteristics have changed. But it’s going to take us a few years to get a better handle scientifically, at a very detailed level, what happens when you get a concussion. We’re cooperating with some of the same scientists that the league is working with. We’ve talked about everything from helmets to measuring impacts in real-time on the field.
Last month, CBS News reports the NFL made a smart decision to invest millions more into research through a partnership with the National Institutes of Health. The league can’t afford to ignore this problem.
On the Friday evening before Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, NPR broadcast this story about former NFL player Sean Morey, who is battling the effects of years worth of concussions. Today, he suffers debilitating headaches, fits of rage and forgetfulness. A 2013 documentary by PBS’ “Frontline” called “League of Denial” effectively highlights the growing evidence of a connection between head-banging injuries in football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The NFL needs to know viewers care about the welfare of its players. To track the number of injuries this past season, check out “Frontline’s” Concussion Watch report.
Football is a grueling sport, which is exactly why so many people love to watch the games. But for all the joy and sense of connection that teams such as the Seahawks bring to their home community, it’s impossible to ignore the troublesome results for some players later in life.
Allen and the NFL must continue to search for answers.