On Sunday, millions of fans will huddle around televisions with fists full of hoagies, hot wings and beer to watch the Denver Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. The battle of ego and might will take place in East Rutherford, New Jersey and is predicted to be one of the coldest Super Bowl games in recent history. When the players hit the field, both teams will feature hulking athletes in prime condition, but each time they charge and tackle, many of them will sustain concussions that put their future physical and mental health in jeopardy.
Head injuries are also common in boxing and hockey but lately, former players and their families are shining a white hot spotlight on the sport of football and the serious damage all those hard hits are causing. Suits filed by a number of former NFL stars including Jahvid Best of the Detroit Lions, Hall of Fame inductee Tony Dorsett, and quarterback Jim McMahon claim they were cleared to play too quickly after receiving concussions, and that the danger of head injuries has been widely downplayed by the NFL.
Long term injuries resulting from head injuries include:
- Irritability/Outbursts/Mood swings
- Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
- Depression Suicidal Thoughts
Recently, the long-running Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) launched a new website called, SportsConcussion.com. Made possible by funding from the Partners for Health Foundation, the site provides a lengthy list of resources for parents, coaches, teachers and players. Sports Concussions focuses on prevention, diagnosis, testing and management of the injury. They also provide educational tools to help parents/doctors decide how soon a player can return to the sport after injury, a primary complaint from former NFL players who felt they were not always given the appropriate amount of recovery time.
The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey was established in 1981. The group is responsible for a statewide campaign that led to the passing of the New Jersey Concussion Law, a directive created to protect student athletes in the state.
Professional football is an inherently dangerous sport but often the potential wealth is touted more than the risk. When budding NFL stars watch the Superbowl this Sunday with stars in their eyes, it’s important that they have parents, coaches and doctors in the background to keep them safe.