Monday, May 21, 2012

The NFL’s Concussion Problem Through the Lens of Public Health Issues

By Charlie Scaturro

Charles LeClaire/US Presswire
Football fans didn’t have much of a chance to digest the media spectacle that is now known as the NFL Draft before they were hit with the tragic news that Junior Seau committed suicide. Retired NFL players who came before Seau have struggled with their lives after football, some of these same retired players have even taken their own lives as a result of their struggles, but none of them were as good on the field, as well liked off the field, or played as recently as Seau. When you’re talking about people suffering and possibly taking their own lives, it doesn’t matter whether they were first ballot Hall of Famers or just another cog in the NFL machine; a life is a life and it’s tragic no matter what their place in NFL history was.

At the same time, because Seau was revered off the field and an All-Pro linebacker on it, his shocking suicide has further exacerbated the current head trauma crisis that has gripped the NFL. It’s still unclear how much of a role Seau’s 20 year NFL career played in his decision to take his own life a few weeks ago, but it’s safe to say that anyone who opted to ignore (or perhaps just hadn’t heard much about) the issue of head trauma in the NFL before Seau’s passing is paying attention now.