Brett Favre isn't the first. And, he won't be the last.
Favre candidly admitted prior to Week 8 of the 2013 National Football League regular season that he is experiencing memory loss as it relates to his career as a successful quarterback, most notably for the Green Bay Packers.
The majority of Favre's career was played prior to the NFL instituting a stricter policy when it comes to concussions. The days of renegade, rebellious players bucking concussion like symptoms such as headaches, nausea and trouble focusing, and pushing forward for the good of the team have rightfully given way to a battery of in game and post game testing. Players aren't rushed back on to the field, but rather the league is aptly preventing players from taking the field for any number of weeks.
But Favre didn't have that sort of luxury for the bulk of his career, and his recent health related disclosure is one of many that have been shared over the years by a myriad of players. That generation of gridiron greats openly discuss how concussions were relatively ignored equally by players and the league as a whole.
Favre isn't the only marquee player in recent years to grab the headlines on and off the field. Retired Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher stated that he's played plenty of games with a concussion and lied about his condition to stay on the field. The late Junior Seau truly turned the concussion topic on its ear when he committed suicide in May 2012, and the autopsy revealed that Seau had brain disease as a result of his NFL career.
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If the death of Seau wasn't enough to hammer home the point that hard hits and head trauma aren't to be ignored, the recent $765 million settlement that requires the NFL to pay a plethora of former players only served to cement the serious nature of concussions. The league responded with not only better measures for diagnosing and treating concussions but also implemented rule changes that eliminated helmet to helmet hits and running backs lowering their heads before contending oncoming defenders.
Off the field, the NFL is investing millions of dollars on medical research, equipment and better benefits for players, all in the hopes that the league and its players have a legitimate future that isn't clouded with contempt or resentment across the board.
All of this posturing and poise exhibited by the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell reads likes "Public Relations 101." That isn't to suggest that Goodell or the league isn't seriously concerned with head injuries and the long term, lingering effects it will have on players such as Favre or Urlacher.
It just seems a little hypocritical when factoring in decisions that directly benefit the business side of the NFL.
The same figurehead that talks about rule changes and player safety also isn't shy about discussing expanding the league to include perhaps one or two teams in London or increasing the number of preseason games or regular season games as well. The already arduous 16-game, regular season schedule is potentially being increased to 18. Goodell also has talked openly about expanding the number of teams that could possibly qualify for the NFL playoffs.
This all sounds superb when considering the NFL and its penchant for printing money. The league is a billion dollar entity, a cash cow that is a licensing and branding powerhouse that shows no signs of slowing.
Even at the expense of the players apparently.
Goodell finds himself in quite the predicament. His job is to generate revenue as the main man in the NFL, which explains his decisions to showcase his product as much as possible through an increase in games.
More revenue from ticket, merchandise, concession and advertising sales all equates to a league that is ultimately a less compassionate employer. The NFL and Goodell specifically can emote all the emotionally charged rhetoric about player safety and steps to ensure a better quality of post football career life for the men who play the game.
But that speech sounds a little too hollow when it is accompanied by talk of adding more workload for the same players you are trying to protect. These players understand the risk and reward that comes with playing a brutal game; what is hard to fathom, however, is unnecessarily increasing the risk part of that equation.
The NFL and its decision makers deserve heaping praise and a plethora of credit and adulation for their tireless effort in helping minimize head injuries and concussions through awareness and testing.
Their ardent, ferocious attempts at cultivating a safer workplace as far as concussions is what makes their plea for putting more players at risk by adding games quite the contradiction.
If money truly is the motivating factor in the entire scope of how the NFL does business than the only thing left to do is sit back and wait for the next person after Favre to step forward with equally startling revelations.
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