By Brant Mackey
Recently ex-Bear, and Hall of Fame running back, Gale Sayers withdrew his lawsuit against the NFL for failing to prevent repeated head injuries suffered while playing football.
Sayer’s case was more of a media circus. While he met with attorneys, he later indicated that he never intended to sue and that he only had a half of a concussion in his seven year career which was shortened by knee injuries.
I enjoy watching football. Traditionally I have been a college football guy, but recently I entered a NFL fantasy football league.
The NFL has reached a $765 million settlement with some 4,500 former players who claimed they were not informed of the long term effects of head injuries.
This lawsuit and changes to rules to protect players have me conflicted. I certainly don’t want anyone hurt just for my viewing pleasure. However, football comes with inherit danger. What do you expect when a 250 lb. angry linebacker goes head on with a 200 lb. running back at speeds of a four second 40? The outcome seems obvious.
Of course there is the god almighty dollar. The NFL player annual league minimum is more than I will have in my IRA when I retire. Many players make millions of dollars, a hefty sum compared to fisherman or logging workers who earn on average only $30 to $40 thousand a year and suffer more long term and career ending injuries and fatalities.
I am okay with the NFL distributing some of its billions of dollars back to the players with health issues related to work and trying to avoid vicious and overly violent hits on the field. But at the end of Monday night we need to realize that it is the players’ decision to enter into this career. They have weighed the risks and rewards and elected to play the sport of their own choice.
For me, well, I am only 5’ 7”, 175 lbs. and run and jump like a snail so the NFL was never an option, nor was high school football. Community journalism has been a much better fit although it comes with its share of occupational hazards.
Mostly, any mistake we make is etched in ink and paper for everyone to read. That is probably why we take accuracy and integrity as seriously as a 300 lb. defensive end chasing down the quarterback.
Brant Mackey is publisher and editor of Springfield Business Journal.