Life After Football


Concussions are about as fun as a stay at the state penitentiary, and millions of athletes across all levels of play suffer a blow to the brain each year. Whether it’s hitting your head on the basketball court or going helmet-to-helmet with a middle linebacker, the effects of a concussion can be debilitating and lead to lifelong struggles with memory, language, and cognitive processing.

That’s why the current activity on Capitol Hill is comforting. Aside from the NFL’s CBA talks, Washington D.C. is the setting for health and safety talks surrounding head injuries across all levels of sport.

State representatives are pushing for a hearing to discuss new helmet safety standards for children, high school athletes, and professional athletes. It sounds as though this is the right thing to do.

"Football helmets were first designed to protect against skull fractures, but users get more than skull fractures. We need to take a look at this to see if there is any way to improve safety,” Butterfield said in a telephone interview. “We need to set some standards, because the ones now are not protecting players to the highest level.All helmets are tested to the standards set by the National Operating Committee of Standards for Athletic Equipment in 1973. The standards are not set by the government and don’t require testing for concussions, don’t take into account the physical differences in people’s heads, and don’t set limits on how long a helmet can remain in play. – G.K. Butterfield"

Sports-related brain injuries have caused death (direct and indirect) and lasting cognitive impairment for many athletes. 

The NFL has a safety net for making sure that players don’t continue to play after suffering a blow to the head. The “battle buddy” system pairs teammates off to watch over eachother during the game. After each hit, a player’s buddy makes sure that he is alert and ready to take part in the next play. If a question arises surrounding a player’s ability to continue, the “buddy” reports the injury to the medics.

Just because a player isn’t knocked unconscious doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a concussion, so that’s where the “battle buddy” system really comes into play. If the player isn’t making sense when conversing or doesn’t know where he is, it’s the buddy’s responsibility to get the player off the field and alert the team’s medical staff.

Over the years, the Broncos have seen their fair share of head injuries. I remember watching Ed McCaffrey who so bravely went over the middle to catch a ball get laid out multiple times. John Elway was no exception either. 

What we forget when watching the game is that there is life after football. There’s life to be lived after the game is over, after the cleats have been hung, and after the jersey has been retired.

The new helmet safety guidelines that will hopefully come into play will only enhance the sport and enrich the players lives after football. That way once they’re done making a living, they can continue to make a life.

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