• Noah Davis

Concussions and the Consequences of Modern Football

Roger Goodell has been the Commissioner of the National Football League for nine years now, with very little positive progress to show. Goodell has gone from scandal to scandal, mismanaging all of them and tarnishing the NFL’s reputation in process.

Goodell’s management of the multiple domestic abuse cases have shown that he is either incompetent and irresponsible with his management of evidence, or inhumane and willing to turn a blind eye to keep star players on the field. While the NFL’s revenue has continued to grow under Goodell, very little of the increase can be attributed to Goodell’s management, with the main reason for the growth being that people just enjoy watching football.

The only reason that Goodell is still around is because all of the fans’ displeasure with the NFL is directed at the league’s owners instead of him. However, if Goodell continues to alienate his powerful friends -- as he did with Robert Kraft during the “Deflategate” scandal -- then his days as NFL commissioner are numbered.

But the biggest issue during Goodell’s tenure as commissioner will be how he deals with the scientific data linking the hard hits delivered during football games to degenerative brain diseases and potentially deadly internal bleeding. If Goodell can properly manage this situation, but not drastically change the fundamentals of football, then all of his past sins can be forgiven.

To do this, the NFL must first acknowledge the major risk that stems from playing any level of tackle football and to compensate the ex-professional players who show symptoms of traumatic injury. While the NFL did pay a $765 million settlement to ex-players who showed signs of trauma in 2013, it never publicly acknowledged that football was a dangerous sport or that there were ways that they could minimize the risks.

The NFL certainly isn’t the only level of football where these traumatic injuries occur. A recent study from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research suggests that at least 12 high school football players die every year because of traumatic injuries that occurred during games.

Changes to high school and even college level football wouldn’t be enough to solve this issue; the NFL must be a leader by introducing rules to eliminate helmet-on-helmet hits, as well as contributing resources to further research traumatic injury treatment and prevention.