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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2082573-The-Price-of-Fame
Rated: E · Essay · Educational · #2082573
The outcome of receiving multiple concussions while playing in the NFL
         
4

         Amani Burton
         
The Price of          Fame

                   It was a cold October night. I was sleep deprived, but I still          managed to find a way to drag myself out of bed and to football          practice. I pondered why I was even going to practice even though I          had a test the next day that had not studied for. Then I had a          flashback to the last person who skipped out on practice; and          remembered how much conditioning he had to do when he returned. The          moment I stepped out of my car, the cold, frigid air hit me and I          immediately regretted leaving my hoodie and Chap Stick at home. I          walked into the locker room to see the usual scenery: half naked          teenagers reminiscing about how good the dance team looked last          Friday in their new uniforms, and people frantically putting their          practice jerseys back on their shoulder pads before practice. The          locker room always smelled like a gas station bathroom on steroids;          people did not know what personal hygiene was. We just won a hard          fought game the previous Friday and received the weekend to recover.          This week, we were playing our rival, so our coaches did not even          have to motivate us for a Monday practice. Monday practices lived up          to the stereotype of being sluggish and lethargic, but this practice          felt different. My teammates were motivated and it was evident          during our scrimmages. The combination of teenage testosterone,          screaming coaches, and playing under the lights ledto an intensified          practice. Towards the end of practice, my teammates were jeering at          each other after every play; and a big play by the offense or          defense led to excessive celebrations. I wanted to be one of those          players that made a big play, so I focused on defending the pass so          I could intercept the ball. The play came. The quarterback dropped          back to pass. He looked over to my side, no one was open. He looked          left and found his man on the sideline. He threw the ball and          everyone waited in anticipation to see who would come down with it.          My teammate intercepted the ball and in a split second I started          running down the field to lead block for him. He ran in the opposite          direction of me and paid dearly for it. He was smacked hard by our          tight end and his helmet flew ten yards backwards. I ran over and          picked his helmet up.
                   âYou okay man? Your chin strap needs to be put on again,â          I said to him.
                   âYeah man, Iâm good. That hit was nothing.â he          said.          
         He played the next couple of downs, but later went to the trainer          to go under concussion protocol. He tried hiding his concussion from          the coaches and he failed. Football players, especially professional          players, are prone to receiving concussions every time they put a          helmet on. Concussions are a part of the sport, and players know the          consequences of playing football; but their desire of the playing          football outweighs the risk of injury. Who would not want to play          football? The NFL is associated with money, fame, and players who          play are known as elite athletes. But is it really worth all of the          head trauma and injuries later down the road? I believe that most          people who play in the NFL will be diagnosed with chronic traumatic          encephalopathy (CTE) after they retire because of the amount of head          injuries they will receive during their career.          
                   Think of the NFL as a ticking time bomb. Every collision leads          to more health issues when you are older. It does not sound fun          receiving a knee replacement while in your mid 50âs, but that          is what these college players sign up for when declaring themselves          eligible for the draft. College players get drafted and receive          their first million dollar paychecks for living out their dreams.          But in reality, they are signing up for repetitive head trauma          through concussions. If you are lucky, rookies will walk away from          their first year intact; but others are not that lucky. Some players          end up on the Injured Reserve list before the season even starts due          to the rigorous offseason programs teams have. Imagine training          every day since the end of the last season just to tear your          pectoral muscle during a team lift or tear your Achilles tendon          while participating in offseason conditioning. If you do make it to          the regular season, you have to worry about making it out of every          game in one piece. Last year, a rookie for the San Francisco 49ers,          Chris Borland, went from being a nice late round draft steal to          being on the front page of the sports world for retiring early. He          lasted one year in the NFL and he retired because he did not want to          be one of those guys that had severe head trauma in their early          40âs. He got a taste of what the NFL was like and left with          his body still healthy. It is rare to see a NFL playerâs          career last longer than 15 seasons. Runningbacks last an average of          six years in the NFL, eight if they are lucky. That is why I like to          refer to the NFL as the âNot For Longâ, because it is          rare to walk away from the NFL healthy. Chris played the position          most prone to receiving head trauma in the NFL: linebacker. If Chris          retired after one year, imagine the toll football would have on          someone who played 20 seasons at linebacker. Junior Seau played a          gruesome 20 years in the NFL and he totaled over 1800 tackles at the          end of his career. Three years after he retired, he committed          suicide because of the repetitive head trauma he received over the          last 20 years of his life. Many players suffer from CTE like he did,          and they all banded together to sue the NFL for giving them brain          damage. The NFL reached a settlement with the players union and          retired players received a compensation for receiving concussions          during their career.          
                   Playing in the NFL does not necessarily mean you will suffer          from CTE after you retire. The NFL is changing the game to try to          prevent concussions. They are doing so by limiting the weekly          practice hours teams have. Along with that, technological          innovations in helmets and shoulder pads allow for less harmful          collisions between players as the equipment absorbs more of the hit          than previous ones. The game is safer because players are now being          fined for hitting defenseless players and for illegal hits. Along          with changes to the rules, teams are trying to keep their players          safe through new tackling techniques. The Seattle Seahawks practice          something called the âHawk Tackleâ, which teaches their          players to tackle with their shoulders and legs, instead of leading          with your head. This type of tackling was taken from rugby, a sport          that is played without any padding at all. Within the next couple of          years, more and more teams will start using this form of tackling.          But even with all of these new precautions, concussions cannot be          100 percent prevented. After last yearâs Super Bowl, NFL          players were surveyed on if they would play in the Super Bowl with a          concussion. A surprising amount of players said yes to that          question, and it shows that players are willing to risk their future          to play in the biggest game of their lives. Apparently the risk of          head trauma is worth it when it comes to playing in the Super Bowl.          These players know the risks of playing through head injuries like:          getting fined (NFL players get fined on average the same amount of          money that students pay in one semester of tuition to attend ASU!),          possibly getting suspended, and the obvious risk of head injuries.          Yet the players go behind the trainerâs and organizationâs          back to hide these harmful injuries.
         
                   With all of the revenue the NFL generates, they do it at the          expense of the players. It is the modern day version of gladiators          with modified rules. Watching players give each other brain trauma,          is the new form of entertainment. Maybe the millions these players          make is worth it to them. But once these players put the pads on and          walk onto the field, the clock starts ticking, and they can only          watch their life span shorten,          one hit at a time.

© Copyright 2016 Amani Burton (uncoloredstew at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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