Undoubtedly, there are long-term physical effects of playing football. Everybody involved knows that going into it. No one can say that they had no idea they could receive a concussion while playing the game. While the doom-sayers predict the death of football, we keep reading quotes from long-time players who say they would definitely do it all over again if they could. From an ESPN article on former Packers G Marco Rivera:
“It was all worth it. Without question,” Rivera said. “Why? I was able to provide not only for my family but for my extended family a better way of life. And I got to the point where my kids are going to have a really good and bright future because of the things I did in the past. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Rivera has had more than his share of post-football pain. Read the article.
A NASCAR driver cannot say, “Gee, I had no idea that I might die on the track.” It’s risk vs. reward, and there will always be men who accept the risk to chase the reward. One thing that may very well change is the length of players’ careers. We don’t know if B.J. Raji will return to the game, but we may see more like him. Get in, make a large amount of money in X number of years, and get out.
And changes to the way the game is played, or the equipment it is played with, are certain to change in the league’s new reality of hyper-critical media and public. Sometimes things need to evolve to survive, and football is definitely on that list. Your children’s NFL will not be the NFL you grew up with. That is one fact we are all going to have to accept, like it or not.