The League

Roman Oben
Retired Football Player

Roman Oben

Played 12 years as a tackle in the NFL

Death Not an Inherent Risk


Despite Carson Palmer's comments, I disagree 100 percent with the notion that death is an inherent risk in football.

As a quarterback, Palmer doesn't play a position that qualifies him to make a statement about being in a life-threatening situation on the football field. One is just as likely to die in a car accident as he is playing football. But in football, death has to do with your body's internal adjustment to external factors: heat, exhaustion, improper use of supplements, etc..

The most notable death in the NFL in my era goes back to Korey Stringer, who died because of heat exhaustion in 2001. My heart goes out to any family that has had to deal with such an unfortunate passing.

But it is less likely for a football player to die because of the physical contact of the game. Two seasons ago, the NFL raised awareness regarding concussions studies and how players develop cumulative trauma from repeated helmet contact. Now if a player suffers any form of head injury, he is immediately evaluated by a doctor, and that doctor has to clear him before he is allowed to return to the field.

I also remember 23-year-old Korean boxer Duk Koo Kim who died after a TKO in a fight with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini in 1982. Both his mother and the referee who called the fight committed suicide several months later.

Boxing and pro football have been affected by these two incidents. The NFL began to monitor closely the use of diuretics, and boxing matches are stopped when the referee feels a fighter's physical well-being is in danger.

People watch and participate in sports often because of the purity of the competition. There is no script, and we don't know the outcome. Unfortunately we have had to learn from tragedies as a result of competition. But we should have faith NFL officials as well as those in other sports have worked to improve the quality of play regarding an athlete's overall health and safety.


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By Roman Oben  |  September 9, 2009; 2:31 PM ET  | Category:  Concussions , Medical , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

What about Darryl Stingley? Or the Cardinals' Bolden last year? God forbid, but is it really unfathomable that a wide receiver, who probably is the most exposed player on the field, might experience worse. And, in that respect, perhaps the QB does have the best perspective.

Posted by: willdd | September 9, 2009 5:28 PM

Just because someone does something for 12 years does not, in any way, make them intelligent. Any input as a result of their experience can be clouded and rendered absolutely useless as a result of a lack of intelligence. These points and logic are simply moronic!!

Posted by: blahblahblahblah1 | September 23, 2009 8:08 AM

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