Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year, was reported to have died with signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in his brain. Since that news broke Thursday morning, reaction continues to come in waves.
Akbar Gbajabiamila wrote Friday in his weekly column on NFL.com that the findings are making some players reconsider the risks of concussions. But the ones he talked to still would play the game.
I reached out to seven former NFL players before I sat down and wrote this column and asked them the same question Mr. Blitzer asked me. All seven said they’d do it all over again knowing what they know now, which is even more than what we all knew when the week began.
He said guaranteed contracts might help more players to be more honest with their health.
The way some contracts are drawn, players have full season splits, which means if you get hurt you earn a reduced salary. This split incentivizes players not to properly report their injuries because of fear of reduced pay or losing their job altogether. I believe that if splits were taken out of contracts and guaranteed contracts were put in place, like they are in the NBA and Major League Baseball, players would be motivated to be honest about their physical condition.
But most NFL players believe guaranteed contracts are a pipe dream, something they’ll never see in their lifetime. And without them, the lying will continue.
As for Gajabiamila, he would still play the game, he said, despite what he knows now.
I never played in a playoff game, but there was nothing I found in my life that gave me a bigger thrill than playing on Sundays. The adrenaline rush was addictive. I miss that, along with everything else the NFL provided me, including a sense of self-worth. That comes from thriving in the intensity of danger and is dangerous enough to make you feel invincible.
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor