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Why I can’t support the NFL and what it condones anymore

by Chance Page, Contributor

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The National Football League is in turmoil.

Those who oppose the widespread protests NFL players are making against racial inequality and police brutality, as well as those who support these protests, have a common way of showing their displeasure — boycott the NFL.

As this NFL season has gone by, I agree with those who no longer support the NFL.

Part of my reasoning comes from the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, among other efforts to crack down on the players’ protests.

It is clear that there is an effort by NFL owners and managerial staff to punish Kaepernick, who started his protest in the 2016 NFL preseason. Despite a rash of injuries to starting quarterbacks this season, Kaepernick remains unsigned. Meanwhile, teams have turned to desperate measures to find quarterbacks, signing Arena League quarterbacks, retired quarterbacks or just plain awful quarterbacks.

And it’s not that Kaepernick played badly last season.  Kaepernick threw for 16 touchdowns and four interceptions through the course of 12 games. Not exactly MVP numbers, but definitely respectable, especially for a team that won only two games last season and that is winless through its first seven games this year.

Kaepernick was also a good teammate. Evident by his 49ers teammates voting for him to win a prestigious team honor at the conclusion of the 2016 season.

It’s clear that there is a deliberate effort to avoid signing Kaepernick, and not because he’s not talented enough, he’s a bad teammate or he’s done something horrible. But instead, it’s because he dared to use his platform for a cause the ownership doesn’t support.

Another reason I stopped watching is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy — a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma according to Concussion Legacy Foundation. The extremely high rate at which football players suffer from it, and the league’s efforts for many years to discredit the notion that football can be a cause of it is concerning.

CTE can lead to memory loss, depression, suicidal behavior and Parkinson’s disease —among other devastating effects.

This disease is incredibly common among football players. A Boston University study showed that 110 of 111 brains of former NFL players studied were shown to have CTE. Ninety-one percent of players who last played in college also had CTE. Even three of 14 players who last played football in high school possessed CTE.

CTE is a crippling condition, ruining the lives of those who possess it.

Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker shot and killed his girlfriend, before committing suicide. An examination of his brain after his death revealed that he suffered from CTE.

Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide by a gunshot to the chest. A post-mortem analysis showed that Seau had CTE.

But it’s not just the likelihood of watching these players give themselves permanent brain damage that is disturbing.

It’s also the league’s disregard for the well-being of their players that makes me not support the league.

For a couple decades, NFL leadership,as well as its owners and its medical personnel, actively denied CTE was connected with football, despite overwhelming evidence that the link was real. They also omitted more than 100 concussions from a study of diagnosed concussions over a five year period and reneged on funding for a study on CTE when a researcher not on the NFL’s payroll was chosen.

Thousands of NFL players each year risk their bodies and their minds playing football. Meanwhile the NFL fought as hard as possible to discredit and obscure the link between CTE and football.

The league shows a significant moral failing in their players’ conduct.

There have been many cases of players committing sexual or physical assault of women, but later being welcomed back with little regard for their victims.

Greg Hardy, convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in 2014 before the case was later settled out of court, returned to the NFL and signed to the Cowboys. Despite his past actions, Hardy was welcomed by the league.

Adam Jones, player for the Cincinnati Bengals, has remained in the league despite instigating a melee at a Las Vegas nightclub that led to an alleged friend of his shooting up that nightclub, as well as five separate accusations of assaulting women from 2006 to 2013.

These are just two cases in a larger trend.

Thirty-three NFL players have been arrested for domestic violence, battery, assault and murder over the course of the past five years.

This issue with domestic violence among NFL players isn’t helped by an inconsistent enforcement of its policy. Suspensions of players arrested in domestic violence incidents are often shorter than the league-mandated six games.

It has become impossible for me, among many others, to continue watching the NFL. The league has repeatedly behaved reprehensibly. Not only in silencing a voice attempting to speak for an oppressed minority, but also for taking delayed action when players are harming themselves and others.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Why I can’t support the NFL and what it condones anymore”

  1. Ted Janusz on November 5th, 2017 6:57 pm

    Chance, thank you for doing the research for your in-depth article and for sharing your valuable insights. And for keeping the community informed.

    Here are three additional resources on the topic you might find interesting:

    What is it like to live with a former NFL player who has CTE? An interview with Cyndy Feasel, author of After the Cheering Stops https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cte-interview-cyndy-feasel-author-after-cheering-stops-ted-janusz

    What happens inside the helmet of a ten-year-old football player? https://vimeo.com/230696433

    What will we tell our kids (and grandkids) about football as it existed in 2017? https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/back-future-cars-football-cte-ted-janusz/

    Keep up your GREAT work!

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