As the number of concussion related lawsuits against the NFL grows (the list has over 2,200 players on it), the league announced the initiation of “NFL Total Wellness” which aims to:
“Empower players to make positive health decisions; promote help-seeking behaviors in connection with behavioral and mental health issues; provide education on family safety; and enhance transition programs that help players adjust to new stages of life.” – Roger Goodell in a letter to NFL fans.
After Junior Seau’s suicide three months ago and the onslaught of lawsuits, the league realized that they need to provide health resources (physical and mental) to current and former players as well as to team personnel.
Former Broncos offensive tackle Dave Studdard is one of those player who filed.
“I just have to refocus, have to concentrate a lot to try to achieve something,” Studdard said. “It kind of comes and goes. I have problems with short term memory loss, but long term memory is there.”
Studdard started 133 games for the Broncos from 1979 to 1988, putting his head down thousands of times to block defenses coming his way.
“It was a situation where we weren’t warned about that scenario happening,” Studdard said. “Now they’re telling us that concussions are a major part of dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
If Studdard would have known about all of the long-term risks associated with playing the sport that he loved, would he have decided on a different career?
“I look at it like I’m glad they didn’t tell me about it so I could play the game because I love the game,” Studdard said. “As far as it happening to my son, I want it to happen to me, not him. ”
Kasey Studdard is a six year veteran offensive tackle. Just like his father, he went to the University of Texas. Kasey was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 6th round of the 2007 draft.
While Kasey has played in 25 games (14 career starts), he had to sit out for eight games during his rookie year after suffering a nasty concussion during a kickoff return.
The proud father shook his head recalling Kasey’s injury.
“It’s just a matter of coping with it. Something is going to happen to you if you play football in high school, college, or pro. It’s going to catch up to you.”
It’s certainly caught up to Dave Studdard, but he makes it a point to say that suicide is never a concern for him.
“Suicide is never an issue in my life,” Studdard said. “I can be the stupidest man in the world, but I would never do that to myself or my family.”
Dave and Kasey Studdard may walk a similar path, but make no mistake. It’s a path they voluntarily took.
“It’s something he wanted to do, it’s something I wanted to do,” Studdard said. “That’s the thing we love.”
To say that life is the sum of all your choices is an understatement. Unfortunately for the Studdard’s, the choices and the thing they love has the potential to hurt the quality of their lives. That’s already happened for Dave.
While the NFL constantly writes hefty paychecks, the amount may not be worth it down the road when one can only smell pigskin from the stands.