With Superbowl Sunday quickly approaching, the Broncos and Seahawks are no doubt full of excitement, pride, and nerves. For most of them, if not all, this one game will be a defining moment in their lives that they will never forget.
A career in the NFL is what many young athletes strive for. If you are a football player, then what better honor is there, than to play for your favorite professional football team? Although this is a dream for many, there are some downsides to playing the sport, including serious injuries. From 2002 – 2011, there were over 30,000 injuries in the NFL alone.
According to a Washington Post survey, nearly 9 out of 10 retired NFL players admit to suffering from aches and pains on a daily basis. 9 in 10 also admit that they’re happy they played the sport but fewer than half would recommend children play it today.
Roman Oben, an ex-lineman, says “I’m 40 years old going on 65. God knows what I’ll feel like when I’m actually 65 years old.”
Most retired football athletes associate their current joint pain with their past careers in the NFL. Blocking, tackling, and hard hits can take a large toll on a person’s joints. These actions can result in torn/snapped ligaments, broken bones, concussions and abnormal bends in the joint, often leading to severe arthritis and joint pain later in life.
It has been reported that players also seem to ignore or hide their injuries due to the financial incentives of their contracts. If they receive a “season-ending blow,” a large portion of the money included their contracts are not guaranteed. “It’s a very competitive business,” says defensive end Tyoka Jackson. “There’s always somebody ready to step in if you can’t go.”
Even though a football career is full of luxuries and rich salaries, it often comes with a lifetime of hurting. Here are a few mind-blowing statistics:
- 1 in 5 NFL players reported 5 or more injuries in their career
- 9 in 10 players reported suffering at least one major injury
- 44% of former NFL players have either received a joint replacement or will need one in the near future
- 1 in 3 younger retirees (ages 30 – 49) said they were unable to work or could only do limited work due to their injuries
Dr. Thomas Schwenk, professor of family medicine at University of Michigan, commented, “once their careers are over, a lot of the residual damage causes high levels of arthritis and pain, and leads to depression, loss of physical activity and physical self-esteem. They often gain weight, especially the lineman, leading to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”
The NFL has recently selected Harvard University to conduct a $100 million study of NFL players and their health problems. Hopefully their findings will provide helpful insight into the injuries, causes, and ways to increase the safeness of the game.