Football is a fascinating sport but the new research and data about brain injuries is making players be extra careful and think extra hard about their playing careers. The newest player connected to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) findings is Aaron Hernandez.
Aaron Hernandez was a tight end in the NFL for three years for the New England Patriots. He played three years of college football for the Florida Gators. Hernandez signed a $40 million contract in 2013 with the Patriots, but it did not last long.
As reported by Ken Belson in his New York Times article, 10 months after the contract, “The body of a friend who had been shot multiple times was discovered. Mr. Hernandez was convicted of the friend’s murder, and later accused in two other killings from 2012.”
Hernandez was sentenced to jail and on April 9, 2017. He was found dead in his jail cell after he committed suicide by hanging himself with his bed sheet a few days after his acquittal of the two other murders.
This past week has provided the family and the NFL with new details of his health from professional football.
In Belson’s New York Times article it said, “A posthumous examination of his brain showed he had such a severe form of the degenerative brain disease CTE that the damage was akin to that of players well into their 60s.”
In Belson’s article, Boston University researchers have found CTE in more than 100 former NFL players and others have committed suicide as well.
The head injuries and continued CTE dilemma in the NFL may become the new problem that journalists, owners, trainers, players and many more will discuss for a good amount of time in the future.
Belson said in his article, “CTE is often marked by problems with controlling aggression and impulses, and some degree of dementia, as well as mood swings, lapses in judgment and a disorganized manner.”
Along with the new CTE findings, the lawyer for Hernandez’s family said that they are suing the NFL and the Patriots for damages, additionally stating they knew the hits to his head could lead to a brain disease. This is not the first time that former players have sued the NFL.
According to another New York Times article by Belson, this one in 2013, the NFL agreed to pay a $765 million settlement to a lawsuit that involved more than 4,500 players and their families.
I expect to see more players sue the NFL, but find it very hard for them to fully win these cases. The players and their families know the danger and harm that can come with the sport. I think the NFL will just settle every case.
The lawsuits will definitely help give more awareness to brain diseases and head injuries. This could result in more precautions and rules of safety handed down by the NFL to doctors and athletic trainers.
“This fourth fall camp that I’m apart of is much different than the first one that I was apart of here at APU. The number of days you are allowed to impact, the number of practices you can have a day, and the number of practice hours for one day are changed quite a bit,” said Jesse Cops, associate athletic trainer at Azusa Pacific University.
Cops said that teams have a certain amount of days off between impact and only a certain amount of time that they can hit.
According to Belson’s New York Times article, Boston researchers found that adults who played tackles football before the age of 12 years old are more likely to develop cognitive and behavioral problems later in life than those players who started playing after that age.
Lastly, Belson’s article talked to Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the VA Boston Healthcare System and director of the CTE center at Boston University.
From Belson’s New York Times article, Dr. McKee said, “Mr. Hernandez had ‘early brain atrophy’ and ‘large perforations in the septum pellucidum, a central membrane’ of the brain. The slides also showed what she called ‘classic features of CTE in the brain.’”
I cannot be sure if his CTE ailment fully caused him to kill someone, but there is a chance that his quicker temper from CTE could have been a factor in Hernandez’s decline from NFL player to convicted murderer.
However, this does show the grueling nature that football can have on its decorated players.