The League

Michael Oriard

Michael Oriard

An English professor at Oregon State University and the author of several books on football, including Brand NFL Making and Selling America's Favorite Sport and The End of Autumn Reflections on My Life in Football

Safety first


Should an NFL player risk the rest of his career to play in the Super Bowl?

No. Though it's his choice, of course. Before concussions took over the headlines, we periodically read about former players who were physically rather than mentally crippled by the long-term consequences of their football injuries. Though less gruesome to contemplate than early dementia, thirty or forty years of hobbling on arthritic joints, with the help of powerful narcotics to dull the pain (and senses), is not a future that anyone would want. The premature end of a career is sad enough, but not nearly as sad as the premature end to a pain-free, normally-active life.

Winning the Super Bowl is pro football's ultimate high. Is it worth a post-career of pain and incapacity? Players caught up in the moment may not have the clearest perspective on their long-term futures; they need ethical doctors to explain the risks clearly. If the long-term consequences of playing are uncertain, the decision to play or not to play is more ambiguous. In Dwight Freeney's case, he's already experienced that Super Bowl high (along with most of the other honors available to an NFL player). I hope that his doctors are good and that he follows their advice if it means putting his health first.

By Michael Oriard  |  February 3, 2010; 10:40 AM ET  | Category:  Medical , Super Bowl Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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