By Ken Reed

The recent settlement between the National Football League (NFL) and approximately 4,500 former players is definitely a win for the NFL. The league gave up less than 10% of its gross revenue for one year and didn’t have to admit any type of guilt, reveal any internal research, or open any medical records. It’s also a win for the hundreds of players that are suffering the debilitating effects of football-induced brain trauma and need the financial help to pay medical bills.

But it’s a big-time loss for the general public, and in particular, young football players and their families.

If this case had gone to trial, Americans would’ve learned even more about the dangers of brain trauma in football and other contact sports. We would’ve learned more about brain injury symptoms and treatment do’s and don’ts. Parents would’ve had more information at their disposal when making decisions regarding sports participation options for their children.

But we’ll never know now what the NFL knew, and when they knew it. What type of information does the NFL have under lock and key about concussions and sub-concussive hits and the links with depression, memory loss, early-onset Alzheimer’s, and even Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS)?

The lawsuit settlement means critical information in our quest to learn more about brain trauma will never see the light of day, and that’s a loss for all of us.

Alas, the NFL suit is over but the concussion/brain issue certainly isn’t. The focus now needs to shift from the 2,000 or so NFL players to the more than 3.5 million youth football players in this country. Young players are more vulnerable to brain injuries than adults because their brains are still developing.

What are we to make of youth football? High school football? Should our public schools — designed to enhance the brain — even be offering activities that are hazardous to the brain?

When it comes to concussions, a ton of issues remain — despite the NFL’s desire to close the book on the issue.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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