Editorial: Game of football not always ‘super’
This is the weekend of the Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League. It is the “game,” the biggest athletic event of the year with millions tuning in via television around the world.
This year’s big game has an intriguing spin with the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John, lining up as head coaches for San Francisco and Baltimore.
This is generally the high point of the NFL year, other than the excitement of draft day.
Yet all is not well in the NFL today.
Now players — young and old — are contemplating their future as concerns grow over the long-term impact of playing. A growing number of professional football players are experiencing degenerative brain disease or are worried about their future health.
Some current players have been involved in off-field violence. One example this season was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and later took his own life.
Some retired players have suffered from various ailments from physical injuries, depression and, in some cases, even suicidal thoughts.
In 2012, retired All Pro Junior Seau, who played in San Diego, took his own life.
Some pro football players have previously been involved in steroid use before league testing began. This week Sports Illustrated mentioned Baltimore’s superstar player Ray Lewis as a player who attempted to purchase deerantler velvet extract.
The NFL needs to work harder to help its players play safely and wisely during their career. Then they need to provide appropriate long-term support for these players following their retirement.
If the NFL does not appropriately address these issues, eventually these shortfalls may begin affecting the popularity of the game.
Football fans on Sunday will be enjoying the game on the field as well as the commercials. Most will not be thinking about the future of these players.
It is time the NFL does.