A poignant reminder of the long-term effects of concussions on football players cane over the weekend when Terry Bradshaw revealed in a blog post that “he is suffering from deficits in short-term memory and impairments in his hand-eye coordination,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper reports that the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, a long-time NFL commentator on television, attributes his ever-worsening problems to “at least six concussions” sustained during his NFL career.
Bradshaw, of course, played in the 1970s and it might be argued that today’s players are better-trained and use better equipment than their predecessors. Two minutes watching NFL films from that era, however, will show any viewer that while today’s equipment may be better, today’s players are bigger, stronger, play the game faster and hit much, much harder than those of a generation ago.
Bradshaw’s revelations of the ongoing effects of brain injuries come at a time when the league is trying to improve its less-than-stellar record of caring for players once their careers are over. It also, as the paper notes, arrives at a time when team officials and players in the worlds of football and hockey are increasingly aware of the damage lesser hits can cause. The Times cites a doctor at UCLA who mentions the cumulative effects of multiple less-than-concussion-level hits – an issue that the NHL has recently begun paying particular attention to.
The lives and long-term health of professional athletes are important not only for their impact on those individuals’ health and the well-being of their families, but because of the signals they send to young athletes.
As a Portland sports injury lawyer, it is especially heartening to see both professional sports and society at large paying more attention to these issues. As I have said before, the legal system is there to help victims an their families obtain justice in the wake of an Oregon brain or spinal cord injury – but when athletes and their families are forced to go to court to protect their rights that is an unfortunate sign that the system has failed in broader, more important ways.
Los Angeles Times: Football concussions catching up with Terry Bradshaw, he says