With the huge news that the NFL will be settling concussion lawsuits (in the form of $765 million), it’s now become a matter of what’s next? Where does the league go from here and where do the players go from here? The large settlement is certainly a huge step towards resolving the issue, but it’s definitely far from over.
I firmly believe that former players deserve some compensation for their head injuries. There was simply not enough awareness on the issue until very recently and the league has to be accountable for that. Many former players allege that the NFL knew more that it led on about the long-term effects of concussions, which may or may not be true.
But the fact of the matter going forward, is that WE ALL KNOW that concussions are horrible and that if you play football, there’s a very strong chance you could get one. It’s with that knowledge that I’ve starting to compare playing in the NFL, to smoking cigarettes. They’re two seemingly unrelated activities, however both have severe risks involved. Taking part in either activity is an assumed risk, because the consequences are very well known at this point.
If you play football – you’re going to get hurt and possibly damage your brain forever. If you smoke cigarettes – you’re going to damage your lungs and possibly develop a serious illness.
The tobacco companies settled a slew of lawsuits against them years ago, and now what do you see on every single cigarette pack? A huge warning label that says: if you do this you might die. While playing in the NFL doesn’t have quite the same extreme consequences, the risks are still very well known.
It’s time the NFL gets their own warning labels in the form of waivers. Each new player that comes into the league should have to sign a waiver, relinquishing their right to sue the league for concussion or other injury related issues. Football is a violent game and if the players aren’t willing to accept the consequences of that, they shouldn’t be playing.
I applaud the NFL for paying out such a large sum of money. The league’s work is not done, because they still have to strive to improve player safety, but they’ve at least put part of this problem behind them. This isn’t the end of the concussion issue by a long-shot, but we’ve finally reached a point where everyone involved can move forward.