Why doesn’t football learn?
I think we would all admit that the Super Bowl was a great game with two well matched teams and a cliffhanger ending. But, Julian Edelman, who may have had a concussion stayed in the game. Sure, Edelman was a key player to the Patriot’s victory, but at what expense if he had a concussion. Just recently the Boston Globe published a story about Mosi Tatupu, a great player from the 1980’s who manifested the signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) before the end of his playing career. In the Boston Globe article his wife showed his helmet with a bent and battered face shield. Is this a souvenir of his career or a tragic marker of the number of concussions he sustained. Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE center at the VA Boston Healthcare System confirmed that Tatupu had the signs of CTE.
A story on Meet-the-Press also addresses the long-term effects of multiple concussions sustained by a player over the course of their career. There is definitely a gap in learning. We know what causes CTE and how it effects a person’s cognition, behavior and personality producing devastating changes. We have improved detection of concussions. Yet, in Sunday’s Big Game, a player who may be been concussed returned to play.
We know winning is important for teams and for their fans and the NFL. But more important than winning the game is preserving brain health for players. Their careers are relatively short when compared to a life of living with a brain injury and ultimately, CTE. We’re not advocating for an end to football, just the application of the knowledge we have to make the game safer.