NCAAF  > General NCAAF  > Beginning of the End for American Football?
April 14, 2013, 08:19 PM
Denver (AP 4/14/2013)- A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit brought against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches over brain injuries suffered by a teenager in 2008...

Saturday's ruling comes as the company is still facing a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, plus a complaint by thousands of former NFL players against the league and Riddell...

"I think this jury has said they're in very serious trouble," said (attorney Frank) Azar, who said he is representing between 10 and 20 former NFL players with complaints against Riddell...
April 14, 2013  08:49 PM ET

Fellow football fans, this is the nightmare that won't be going away. I struggled for years with this scenario in the forefront of my mind during my own coaching career, and feared for my kids on the field and for the possible litigation that might arise if they were to get a serious head/neck injury during play.

It made for a chilling effect in my work as a football coach, and eventually prompted me to retire from the profession. It haunts me even now: yesterday I saw a young man suffer a head/neck injury in a collision during NMSU's Saturday scrimmage. He was helicoptered to El Paso; his condition is unknown at this time.

I personally can't see the sport of American football (as we know it now) surviving this tort onslaught. Equipment manufacturers like Riddell will be driven out of business. Football coaches will quit or have to pay enormous liability insurance fees to keep working. All levels of American football will be affected, from the NFL down to Pop Warner.

I apologize in advance if I've come off sounding like a raving lunatic.

April 14, 2013  09:09 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Fellow football fans, this is the nightmare that won't be going away. I struggled for years with this scenario in the forefront of my mind during my own coaching career, and feared for my kids on the field and for the possible litigation that might arise if they were to get a serious head/neck injury during play.It made for a chilling effect in my work as a football coach, and eventually prompted me to retire from the profession. It haunts me even now: yesterday I saw a young man suffer a head/neck injury in a collision during NMSU's Saturday scrimmage. He was helicoptered to El Paso; his condition is unknown at this time.I personally can't see the sport of American football (as we know it now) surviving this tort onslaught. Equipment manufacturers like Riddell will be driven out of business. Football coaches will quit or have to pay enormous liability insurance fees to keep working. All levels of American football will be affected, from the NFL down to Pop Warner.I apologize in advance if I've come off sounding like a raving lunatic.

Great comment Harles but I'm thinking different. About a hundred twenty years ago a similar concern was happening in collegiate football because of numerous deaths on the field and if I recall the govt. got involved and sweeping changes were made. New rules were put in place that drastically changed the way the game was played, away from the dangerous scrum piles to a style of play that is more recognizable as modern football.

And on that note we're already seeing new and stricter rules about helmet to helmet hits and so on...

And I think it's ridiculous to put any blame on the equipment makers, that's absurd!

I'm not familiar with the lawsuit you mentioned but I would think it will be appealed and maybe overturned in a higher court.

I don't think it's the beginning of the end for football but we might see drastic changes sooner than later.

Apology.............................. ACCEPTED!

April 15, 2013  06:23 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

I apologize in advance if I've come off sounding like a raving lunatic.

Just a personal observation, you'd have to try harder to accomplish that.

April 15, 2013  08:04 AM ET
QUOTE:

Denver (AP 4/14/2013)- A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit brought against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches over brain injuries suffered by a teenager in 2008...

Some clarification here: according to an update, Riddell is liable for $3.1 million; coaches and administrators, who were found negligent, have immunity and do not owe the balance of the award as they are (state) GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYEES.

My angst is mitigated somewhat. But only somewhat.

April 15, 2013  08:44 AM ET

The National Football League now collects benchmark measures of awareness for each player, which can be used during a game to judge whether he has been concussed.

From 1931 to 2006, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research reported 1,006 direct and 683 indirect fatalities resulting from participation in all organized football (professional, college, high school, and sandlot) in the US.;[10] the yearly number of indirect fatalities has remained near 9.0 per year

Direct fatality averages[10]
Number/year - Period
18.6 - 1931-1970
9.5 - 1971???1990
4.2 - 1991-2007

In 2006, with an estimated 1.8 million participants in organized football, the survey reported a relatively high 16 indirect deaths but only one fatality directly attributable to football play (a high school running back who suffered a fatal spinal injury when tackled).
A 1994 Ball State University survey found that "players in the 1980s suffered serious injuries and underwent operations at twice the rate of those who played in the 1950s or earlier".
A 2000 University of North Carolina study found that in the period between 1977 and 1998, each year on average 13 athletes had suffered catastrophic injuries (primarily permanent paralysis) through direct result of participation in football; it also found that between 1977 and 1998, "200 football players received a permanent cervical cord injury, and 66 sustained a permanent cerebral injury".
An estimated 40,000 concussions are suffered every year among high school players.


The above quote is from Wikipedia...interesting that the number of deaths are trending down but the number of injuries are going up.

I have always felt that the injuries are going UP due to the advanced armoring of the players. They are better "protected" so they think they can do things that are more dangerous.

An example, from another sport but still within the bounds of the discussion, is Barry Bonds (and other MLB Players) who wear armor padding on the arm facing the pitcher, thus allowing them to "stay in there" on the close pitches thus exposing themselves to injury if the pitch rises and hits them in the head. Without the padding, they would "bail" much sooner.

The answer? I don't know. Going back to leather helmets and no pads is not the answer...but then what is the injury/death rate in Rugby?

Excuse me while I research that one...talk among yourselves.

April 15, 2013  08:48 AM ET

Speaking of Denver, I offer the following sidebar - On 4/20-21/13, Denver "hosts" the Cannabis Cup, highlighted by a public "light up for legalization" in Denver's Civic Center Park. Approximately 50,000 are expected to attend. The pungent perfume of burning pot should overwhelm the senses of curious bystanders.

What would have been their decision had the jurors either refrained from indulgence or delayed their decision until after this coming weekend? Did the use of marijuana or lack thereof impact the jurors' judgement? Mellow minds wish they'd had the chance to find out....

April 15, 2013  08:53 AM ET

In this article, it would seem that, along with the lack of protection, it is also the threat of severe penalty on a play that we would deem" part of the game".

The nature of the contact is different between the two codes. In particularly, the rules of tackling are very different - high tackles are impermissible, and one may not shoulder-charge or (of course) lead with the head (as is taught in gridiron, to its shame). There also is no "blocking" (it would be interference), and most contact except at the tackle (and even then) comes with limited run-up: no wide receiver running at speed into open space and being taken in the air by a strong safety with a 15 yard running start. A head slap or a clip would be a red-card dismissal, with your team playing a man down the rest of the way
::From Yahoo Answers by a poster named Mark L.::

So a comparison of the two sports would not be beneficial.

April 15, 2013  09:21 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

I apologize in advance if I've come off sounding like a raving lunatic.

No need to apologize. Being a raving lunatic is admirable for certain noble causes.

Now, being a raving lunatic about your bucknuts is another story!

April 15, 2013  11:56 AM ET

Even though this is a reality of the culture and society that we live in today, where everyone wants to sue someone for anything like all the smokers suing big tobacco for cancer or the idiot that sued Mcdonalds for hot coffee, if you know something is going to give you brain damage and you do it anyway you should be on your own, this is going to be just another example of the gov,t telling us how we can live, and what we can do like seatbelts soon football will be as exciting as a game of chess.........

April 15, 2013  03:28 PM ET

Ohio has passed a law (or so I've been told that is the reason) that requires ALL student-athletes to read and sign an acknowledgement form regarding concussions. At our school, coaches have to take an on-line concussion test before they are eligible to coach. Our school has also teamed up with Children's Hospital to provide a screening to use as a baseline to compare to results after a head/neck injury happens.

April 15, 2013  08:38 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

... Now, being a raving lunatic about your bucknuts is another story!

That sort of insanity is hard-wired. My bad. ;)

April 15, 2013  08:43 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

...So a comparison of the two sports would not be beneficial.

Good piece of research just the same. Thanks, D2.

I found your analysis interesting about the the death-to-injury ratio in football over the years. Attributable to better, faster triage perhaps?

April 15, 2013  09:07 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

... New rules were put in place that drastically changed the way the game was played, away from the dangerous scrum piles to a style of play that is more recognizable as modern football.And on that note we're already seeing new and stricter rules about helmet to helmet hits and so on... I don't think it's the beginning of the end for football but we might see drastic changes sooner than later...

Thanks for your perspective, Norka. I agree with D2 in that we can't turn back the hands of time on football equipment, and the fact that the high-impact plastics used in helmets for the past half century (along with the facebars) have made weapons out of these items. Hopefully the new rules coming into play for the 2013 season will be a wake-up call for all participants, coaches, and officials of football.

The immutable facts remain about the sport, however. American football is a violent and dangerous game of collision with the potential for death or catastrophic injury by its participants. That aspect cannot be legislated away by rule changes.

My worry is that in this lawsuit-happy country of ours we are going see a storm of suits, legitimate or not, that will overwhelm the Riddells and Schutts to the point that they shutter their doors. I also believe lawyers will eventually find a way around the immunity status currently protecting coaches and administrators, and when that happens, the death knell for the sport will have been sounded. The only immediate solution I can see is tort reform, but that's a political and legal issue.

April 15, 2013  09:09 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Just a personal observation, you'd have to try harder to accomplish that.

Thanks, TM. Just didn't want to appear to have gone over the deep end.

Quality Quad.

April 15, 2013  09:15 PM ET

Update: the NMSU football player injured Saturday (Miles Washington) likely suffered a cervical fracture. He had surgery in an El Paso hospital. No info on his prognosis as yet. I pray for his recovery.

April 16, 2013  01:25 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

Even though this is a reality of the culture and society that we live in today, where everyone wants to sue someone for anything like all the smokers suing big tobacco for cancer or the idiot that sued Mcdonalds for hot coffee, if you know something is going to give you brain damage and you do it anyway you should be on your own, this is going to be just another example of the gov,t telling us how we can live, and what we can do like seatbelts soon football will be as exciting as a game of chess.........

I agree, we live in a litigious society, people want to take the easy way out and sue someone. It is only a matter of time before some MMA fighter sues because he was kicked in the head during a match. It is sad what this could due to football.

April 16, 2013  01:51 PM ET
QUOTE(#15):

Update: the NMSU football player injured Saturday (Miles Washington) likely suffered a cervical fracture. He had surgery in an El Paso hospital. No info on his prognosis as yet. I pray for his recovery.

Thanks for the update. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family/friends

April 16, 2013  01:59 PM ET

Back in the day (I played ball in the late '60's and early '70's) there wasn't the concern over lasting effects of concussions. One of my two best friends was a RB, and he used his helmet as a battering ram; almost always the first point of contact, and he was proud of it. After games his forehead was always blue/purplefrom bruising, so I know he must have had an undiagnosed concussion or 10.

Anyway, I moved away and lost touch. Through a mutual friend I found out that he had committed suicide, but no-one had details. After Jr. Seau's suicide it got me to wondering if my friends death may have had somewhat to do with brain trauma...

So no, not crazy. I sincerely hope helmet technology improves and lessens or eradicates this but it may be baby steps. One thing that could be done now is insert pressure sensors that would give warning to coaches and players that too many head hits have taken place; similar to radioactivity sensors.

Of course we all know it only takes one Jack Tatum hit and Darryl Stingley is paralysed for life... those cases sensors would be useless.

April 16, 2013  07:18 PM ET
QUOTE(#16):

I agree, we live in a litigious society, people want to take the easy way out and sue someone. It is only a matter of time before some MMA fighter sues because he was kicked in the head during a match. It is sad what this could due to football.

I'm sure the MMA fighters sign paperwork to wave their legal rights regarding in-match injuries...

Although I don't see why it's not that simple with the NFL.

Players know the risks. Make them sign paperwork to prove it.

 
April 16, 2013  08:04 PM ET
QUOTE(#19):

I'm sure the MMA fighters sign paperwork to wave their legal rights regarding in-match injuries...Although I don't see why it's not that simple with the NFL.Players know the risks. Make them sign paperwork to prove it.

Also...as I found out researching American Football vs Rugby....make certain penalties automatic ejection and no substitution...team plays a man down.

That would make James Harrison, Suh and Fairly (and others) think a little more...

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