It looks like the NFL lockout will end soon, saving the upcoming season and freeing owners and players to share billions of dollars again.
But there's another grave issue that demands the same urgent attention from the league – repetitive brain injury.
Football, by its very nature, is a violent sport. Players are bigger and faster than ever; simple physics dictates that head-on collisions have more force. The evidence continues to mount that the cumulative impact over hundreds of practices and games can lead to serious brain damage, causing a debilitating condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
For years, the NFL downplayed the risk and sought to discredit the research. But under pressure from former players, members of Congress and the media, the league last year recognized the long-term health effects of repeated concussions, even issuing a locker room poster with stark warnings.
On Wednesday, however, came word that 75 retired players filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles claiming that the league knew years earlier about the danger of concussions but hid that information from players. The NFL denies the allegations.
Then there are sad stories like those of Forrest Blue Jr., the latest former NFL player to direct that after death his brain be donated to researchers at Boston University.
Drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1968, Blue played in four consecutive Pro Bowls before retiring after the 1978 season, settling in Rocklin and starting a contracting business. He died Saturday at age 65. In his later years, he had dementia and symptoms of Parkinson's disease believed to be the result of playing football, his daughter told The Bee's Robert D. Dávila.
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