Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Player Brain Injuries and the Future of the NFL

brain injuries, NFL, Naperville business law attorneyAssume for a moment that you own an extremely profitable business. Your product is the most popular of its kind in the entire world, your annual revenues are measured in billions, and entire television networks have been dedicated to 24-hour programming about your company. Now, consider your workforce. Your business employs thousands of people, with about 2000 of them representing your top producers, overtly responsible for your business’s success. Of that number, approximately 40 percent are found to have sustained a serious, irreversible injury in the course of their job performance, one that has the danger to not only affect their quality of life but also can cause premature death. With an injury rate like that, would your company be able to survive?

This situation, almost exactly, is what the National Football League is now facing, following the release of a new study that examined the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries among former players. As business law attorney, I understand that some industries are inherently dangerous, but that the safety of employees and contractors should always be a top priority.

Concussions and CTE

The subject of concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been at the front of public consciousness for years now, as a growing number of former NFL players have posthumously diagnosed with the degenerative brain condition. CTE has been linked to dementia, decreased motor skills, and suicide, and is thought to be caused by repeated concussions and lower-grade impacts to the head. The issue has become so concerning that, just last month, a federal appeals court upheld a $1 billion settlement between the League and 22,000 former players regarding concussion-related trauma.

Troubling New Findings

While CTE can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, there are ways to detect in advance traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that could be warning signs of CTE in the future. According to a study recently presented to the American Academy of Neurology, a specific type of MRI test has revealed that more than 40 percent of former NFL players show signs of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Francis Condi, the study’s lead author, says the research is one of first to show “significant objective evidence for traumatic brain injury in these former players,” and that the rate of TBI found in the players was “significantly higher” than among the general population.

What Does It Mean?

The pool of test subjects for the study was relatively small—only 40 retired players participated—but the findings could spell long-term disaster for the League. The NFL generated more than $7.2 billion in 2014, with higher numbers expected this year, but is dependent on a pool of players ready to step in and take over playing roles every few years. With concussions, brain injuries, and CTE becoming such a grave concern, more and more parents are hesitant to allow their children to play football at an early age, effectively slowing the development of new talent.

The study also raises the question of sustainability. How can the League continue to survive when four out ten players are at such high risk? Of course, that is not even accounting for broken bones, torn ACL’s, and countless other sports-related injuries. Football has become deeply ingrained in American culture so the League is not likely to simply disappear overnight, but the way in which it chooses to address the head injury problem in the future will be very telling indeed.

Work Safety Concerns

You probably do not own an NFL franchise, but the safety of your workers and contractors is no less important. If you have questions about developing workplace safety protocols, contact an experienced Naperville business lawyer today. Call The Gierach Law Firm at 630-756-1160 to schedule an appointment.



Washington Post

Wall Street Journal

American Academy of Neurology

SB Nation