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The NFL and Concussions

Updated on December 28, 2015

The movie Concussion

For anyone over 30 in this country to a person they would probably agree that the NFL is by far the most exciting, has the best highlights and invokes more awe for the great athletes who play in this league. Once a players life in the NFL ends, nobody cares about these athletes anymore and in many cases, their financial lives go downhill once they are no longer making the big money like they did in their younger years. This financial issue is just one major ongoing problem for all professional athletes in this country; namely the inability to handle money both during and after their career in professional sports.

In September 2002, Mike Webster, the 18 year Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers, died at only age 50 of what at first seemed to be some sort of dementia. It was later discovered that Webster was not only demented but also homeless and living in his car before he died. According to the movie Concussion, Mike Webster killed himself by shocking himself with an Electrical Device. During the autopsy a doctor from Nigeria Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered an entirely new disease of the brain, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. Dr Omalu discovered that this specific disease is caused by repeated blows to the head over a long period of time and in the case of Mike Webster he estimated that he suffered some sort of head trauma, no less than 70,000 times in his career as a football player. The result of this disease is worse than just dementia, it involves violent outbursts, complete loss of memory and cognitive function and even can involve hearing voices leading some to attempt murder or suicide.

Mike Webster was the most famous former player to be stricken with CTE in 2002, but while watching this movie it was made very clear that this problem had been going on for many years and the NFL was denying this issue and even going to such lengths as conducting medical tests on concussions and concluding that they have almost no medical impact to current and former players. The tests they conducted were absurd and designed to prove that there is no long term medical issue with concussions in the NFL which as Dr. Omalu proved is not true.

Mike Webster

Mike Webster,; Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Webster,; Center for the Pittsburgh Steelers

The Effects of CTE

After Mike Webster's death, there were several other Pittsburgh Steelers who were involved in outbursts of extreme anger and suicides and one in particular, Justin Strzelcyk attacked his family and then purposely crashed his car into oncoming traffic killing himself. Once again, Dr. Omalu had to fight to do brain biopsy on Stzelczyk to verify that he also suffered from CTE. Soon after this, another Pittsburgh player, Terry Long committed suicide by drinking a gallon of antifreeze. As the deaths and incidents of CTE continued, the NFL continued to deny the problem and even conducted FBI investigations against Dr. Omalu's boss at the Pittsburgh coroners office and tried to discredit Dr. Omalu's medical credentials.

The deaths and suicides from CTE continued to pile up and other players including (Andre Waters , Dave Duerson , Junior Seau and Terry Long) all committed suicide, two of them Duerson and Seau killed themselves by a self inflicted gunshot to chest so that doctors could verify that they had CTE by examining their brains. Even despite all of this overwhelming evidence, Dr. Omalu had to keep fighting with the NFL as they tried to discredit his findings and even the discovery of CTE as a medical issue.

NFL Helmet

How bad is the CTE problem in the NFL?

How prevelant is the CTE problem in the NFL? What is being done right now to improve this severe medical issue that continues to threaten the health of all current, future and retired NFL players?

List of NFL players with CTE

What is being done to correct the CTE issue in Football?

What is CTE and what can we do?

Famous NFL Players Diagnosed with CTE mentioned in the movie Concussion

(click column header to sort results)
Year Died of CTE  
Dave Duerson
Chicago Bears
Mike Webster
Pittsburgh Steelers
Junior Seau
San Diego Chargers
Justin Strzelczyk
Pittsburgh Steelers
Andre Waters
Philadelphia Eagles
Terry Long
Pittsburgh Steelers

Dave Duerson

Problems Duerson family had with the movie Concussion

Favorite Sport

What is your favorite team sport?

See results

Justin Strzelczyk Car Accident September 2004

The Movie Concussion


Is there a solution to this concussion problem in the NFL? Is the solution better helmets? Can such a technology even exist that would greatly reduce or eliminate the constant problem of head injury which has such severe long term deleterious effects on the human brain?

Some technology advancements have focused on the football field itself, rather than the helmet: NFL Helmet improvements . Can a massive improvement in the NFL helmet actually save Football? Or is this an impossible task for scientists to design a helmet that greatly reduces or eliminates any head trauma? Right now its very obvious that an football helmet is just not effective enough to eliminate long term brain damage.

The current head injury statistics and long term health effects are staggering proving how severe the head injury issue is in the NFL and if something is not done and soon, this problem will just get worse.

So what is the solution to this problem? Is there an effective solution to a problem this complex? Football is about violence and collisions between two players and the human head was never meant to take blows like players take in the NFL. As is stated in the movie Concussion, if just 10% of parents no longer allow their child to play football, over time, this may eliminate this sport over a period of years. Perhaps the end of the game of Football is the only real real solution to this problem and even former players like Terry Bradshaw have suggested this might be the only alternative. All there is left is technology and scientists and the hope that some day some middle ground will be achieved that will eliminate or greatly reduce the problem of CTE from the game of football for good.

The bottom line of this issue clearly is; what good is all the fame, glory and potential riches of NFL football if by the end of your career you have a severe mental deficiency that could cause you to go insane, lose your mental capacity or drive you into a rage that could cause you to commit murder or suicide? The answer to all this ultimately is that if this problem of CTE continues and gets worse then fewer and fewer athletes will choose Football as their sport and one day the NFL might not even exist. Why would anybody choose a sport that could do this level of harm to you after you retire?

The book Concussion is available on Amazon: Concussion.

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