Will football survive the controversy?

With the exception of the beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took last night, the recent NFL and college football headlines are grim reminders of the troubles plaguing the League.

It seems as if Ray Rice and the NFL concussion lawsuit served as starters to the continuing stream of bad news in their respective areas. Just when we thought we’d seen the worst of it, well, we were wrong.

First the discussion about the violent natures of some NFL current and retired players. After Ray Rice, teams across the league seemed anxious to rid their rosters of any potential issues to place them in the same position as the Ravens. Adrian Peterson was removed from the Vikings’ roster for alleged child abuse. Apparently he “disciplined” his 4-year-old with a switch in May. The Vikings put him on the exempt list, then reinstated him to play against the Saints and then finally suspended him indefinitely the following day, but not before losing a major sponsor in Radisson Hotels.

Moving to the Arizona Cardinals, we have former Steelers’ running back Jonathan Dwyer. This week he was arrested for a domestic abuse incident that occurred in July. According to witness reports, Dwyer tried to undress and his kiss his wife and attacked when she refused his advances. He hid in the bathroom when the police arrived, telling his wife he’d kill himself in front of her and their then 17-month-old son if she said he was home. It gets worse. Just a day later he punched his wife and threw a shoe at his baby and then chucked his wife’s cell phone from the second story of their home when she tried to call the police.

This is just the latest in a long line of violent reports from professional football players. Are football players more prone to violence because the nature of the game they’re paid to compete in? Do you think they can get away with it because their status and income? Or is it a deeper and more terrifying issue.

Last Friday the NFL released a startling statistic- one in three former players will experience long-term cognitive issues at ages much younger than their non-athlete counterparts.

We’ve seen the effects of CTE on retired players. They become different people. Violent. Erratic. Depressed. Too often they take their own lives. This leads to the question on all our minds- is playing in the NFL making these people violent? Did the years of concussions and head injury finally reveal the ugly, long-term side effects with these players?

At least it seems some aren’t taking any chances.

The starting quarterbacks for UConn and the Texas Longhorns announced within the past two weeks they’re retiring now after sustaining at least three concussions during their respective football careers. To them, the game isn’t worth the potential consequences. John Abraham of the Arizona Cardinals is also considering retiring after a concussion last Monday and more than year of memory loss.

Time Magazine posed an important question on a cover released yesterday- is football worth it? Many are using the hashtags #BoycottNFL and #GoodellMustGo to voice their anger with the league for letting this behavior seemingly go unpunished or with a slap on the wrist, with particular vehemence toward the commissioner for his mishandling of every crisis that’s come his way in recent memory. Many are calling for sponsors to pull their funding until the NFL makes some serious changes.

So many of us wait the long spring and summer months for football to return, staying up to date with offseason updates, training camp and preseason games, but what are we supporting? Are we allowing a screwed up system to continue for our own entertainment?

Because of the millions of viewers, football will probably make it through the current problems and emerge with more fans, but at what cost? And what will change? Football as we know it must adapt to address growing concerns about concussions and the long-term effects.


Laird, S. (2014). When football isn’t with it. Mashable. [Link]

Smith, M. D. (2014). Latest concussion may end John Abraham’s career. NBC Sports. [Link]