Why the NFL Got Its Head in the Research Game

The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell were the recipients of a rare "woo hoo"  from players and families by donating $30 million to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research degenerative brain diseases. This research will not only benefit football players, but all athletes subjected to head trauma. The medical community will also benefit by learning more about how repetitive head injuries and how they affect patients in the short and long term. 

For many football fans, there are two sides to the game. On the one side, you have the fans themselves. Anyone that continues to root for their team even though they have a history of a pathetic offense, defense and special teams is true blue. On the other side, you have the players talking about how they sacrifice their bodies for the sport, putting themselves on the line every Sunday, Monday or sometimes even Thursdays. Earning millions of dollars a year to play ball and complaining about sacrifice? Insert eye roll. However, and this is a big however, NFL players and head injuries is a serious offense on the field and a serious topic off the field.

The NFL has never really been that great at acknowledging the brutal beating the players take out on the field. The players are the workhorses and the NFL is the cart their hauling. There has always been controversy regarding team doctor's clearing players for games when they ought not do so. As it turns out, which is no surprise, football players are three times likely to die from degenerative brain diseases such as Lou Gehrig's, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, than the average person. A big focus of the NIH's research will be chronic traumatic encephalopathy. That's a fancy name for a condition that strikes those that have been hit in the head repeatedly.

It should be noted that the NFL is funding this research all on its own and is not asking players to pony up. Not that they can't afford it, after all, they're out there hurting each other, subjecting themselves to the physical damage that 60 minutes of chasing a ball up and down a field can do to a body. Maybe, other athletes subject to the same head trauma, who will surely benefit from such research, should chip in as well. We're looking at you Floyd Mayweather and Many Pacquiao. Come on guys, do it for Junior and Duerson