Anyone who’s associated with the game of football has done some soul searching in the days since Junior Seau’s death. Fans have wondered if they should continue to be fans, and if they’re causing physical harm to players by providing an audience, while parents have re-visited the long-term health risks associated with football’s physical pounding.
The most inward examination has been done by the players themselves. London Fletcher said that he’s conscious of his instinctive need to keep emotions tightly bottled, a piece of mental framework that’s common among the male species, but is particularly prevalent among those who are paid to play brutally physical sports. Meanwhile, Seau’s former teammate Lorenzo Neal spoke of the darkness that can descend during retirement, and the need to guide players through the delicate post-football phase of their lives.
For most players, though, the ability to live healthy lives as they fade off and are still young family men in their early 40s is the primary concern. Count Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora among those who are afraid of a life in retirement in which normal mobility is a serious challenge…
It’s easy to say that players assume the risk of physical harm to play at an elite level, and to be paid handsomely while playing a game they love. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to support that argument when the health risks are becoming severe, and they carry on long after Sundays in the fall.
Like the rest of of us, NFL players are entitled to a healthy, happy retirement.