Did you hear about the ex-Chicago Bears player who committed suicide last week? Dave Duerson, a former Chicago Bears player who was instrumental in their 1985 Super Bowl win, shot himself in the chest -- but not before texting family members with the request that his brain tissue be examined for damage.
My boyfriend was actually saying the other day that he envies how much money pro athletes make, but there's also a price they pay for that fat paycheck -- many NFL players suffer repeated brain trauma. More than a dozen deceased players have acquired a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is linked to depression, dementia, and occasionally suicide. Prior to his suicide, Duerson had expressed concern that he might have had the condition.
This is so incredibly sad and disturbing, but maybe it will serve as a wake-up call to the NFL?
The Duerson family, following Dave's wishes, contacted Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.
What surprises me is that we only first started hearing about CTE in 2007, when the disease was linked to the suicide of former Philly Eagles player Andre Waters. And then, what? In the past four years, despite several similar cases, it seems like nothing has been done by the NFL to address the issue and offer support to former players who have suffered from related symptoms.
In fact, they're pushing for an 18-game season! Doctors, NFL officials, and even many players denied or discredited the links between football and such brain damage for months or even years, reports The New York Times. Well, guess what, guys? Ignorance, in this case, is certainly NOT bliss. Turning their backs on the existence of CTE is obviously coming back to bite them.
Also, it's kind of nerve-wracking that Duerson didn't try to get help before resorting to suicide. Couldn't he express his concerns about brain damage to a doctor? Maybe he did, but he was told that he was crazy? Just speculating here, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was just handed some Effexor or Paxil and told to deal with it.
Now that he's gone, though, it seems like people are starting to pay more attention to the problem. According to a union spokesman, some players have called the union’s office in Washington since Duerson’s death wanting to learn more about the condition. Thank GOODNESS! There are likely many former players who are suffering in silence. With hope, this tragic turn of events will lead to valid questions and salient findings about the disease.
Do you think the NFL will start paying more attention to game-related brain damage now?
Image via NFL.com