The suicide of former NFL player Junior Seau last week has raised a national debate in the USA sports media around the long term effects of concussions sustained during careers of NFL players. No one actually knows if Seau was affected by long term concussion issues, which some studies show can lead to depression. Generalizations abound and all of a sudden NFL is portrayed as a risky sport and no one wants their kids to play the game.
Wearing a helmet leads to the head being used as a weapon in some people’s eyes. Head to head clashes have been outlawed in recent years and have lead to large fines or bans.
Yes concussions lead to shortened careers not only NFL players however in a number of sports and closer to home, both in rugby union and rugby league. The late Jock Hobbs All Black career was cut short due to concussions sustained and more recently Cronulla’s Reece Williams in the NRL suffered a similiar fate.
The question needs to be asked …..do concussions really lead to depression ? The lifestyle of NFL players do not always have happy endings financially once thir careers finish. Large entourages during their playing days and a number of bad investment decisions are common. Domestic and paternity issues are also common which lead to financial distress. Also the fact that their days are free and they are no longer centre stage may also be a factor to adjusting to life outside of football or indeed any pro sports.
It would be foolish to say that getting jolted in the head by a 300 pound defensive tackle will not have any effect however it’s easy to shed the blame when it may be just a small factor in the cause of both depression and other related issues.
Regardless the NFL lost one of the best and most professional players last week. RIP Junior