Favre has to be escorted off the field injured.Image: imago
Former quarterback Brett Favre is one of the most famous football players in history. Now the 52-year-old shakes things up with statements on a talk show. They come at a time when head injuries in the NFL are being discussed – once again – in the US.
Can you get seriously injured playing chess? Almost. Fortunately, it’s just a figure of speech if you’re stuck in the brain.
The situation is somewhat different in American football, the chess-on-turf game where coaches push their players around and dictate which rehearsed fields they will use in the next game. Head injuries are common in this sport.
Frequent blows to the head
Recently, the case of Demaryius Thomas made waves. The broadband operator died in December aged just 33. After his death, the autopsy revealed what many had already assumed: Thomas suffered from “Boxer’s Syndrome”. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the technical term for this condition, which is triggered by frequent blows to the head. Symptoms may include headaches, emotional outbursts, depression, cognitive impairment or speech problems.
His death was a result of the many beatings on the football field: Demaryius Thomas.Image: imago
Like Demaryius Thomas, Brett Favre can also call himself a Super Bowl winner. The legendary quarterback of the Green Bay Packers is considered the “Iron Man”, Favre started 321 consecutive NFL games. Recently, the 52-year-old was shocked when he was asked on a radio show how many serious head injuries he had sustained during his long career. Favre said: thousands.
Of stars and flashes of light
“The problem with concussions is that we still don’t know a lot about them,” he said. “If you had asked me ten years ago how many concussions I had, I would have said ‘three’. Because I thought concussion is when you pass out, when you pass out, don’t know where you are for a while, have memory loss, you get dizzy. A boxer is knocked down and tries to get up, his legs are rubber. To is a concussion.”
But now the research is on another level, said Favre. “We now know that concussions happen again and again. You get attacked, hit your head on the lawn, see flashes of light or hear noises in your ears, but you can continue to play.” Based on these findings, he comes to the conclusion that he must have suffered “thousands” of concussions.” It must be because every time my head hit the grass there was a jingle or stars and lightning, but I was still able to play.”
Brett Favre today, more than a decade after retirement.
It’s these supposedly insignificant concussions that do the damage because you can keep playing. It is frightening. “There’s probably still guys today who, despite a concussion, say, ‘I’m not leaving the field,'” speculated Favre, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.
Thousands of victims
Statisticians counted 525 sacks in his career. Brett Favre has been slammed into the ground by an opponent 525 times in one game, often as violently as if he had been caught under a train. Career ended in 2010 with a concussion in a game against the Chicago Bears, after which he was “out” for ten, fifteen seconds. When he got to, he asked the coach, “What are the Bears doing here?”
The death of Demaryius Thomas has sparked renewed debate about CTE in the United States. The number of football professionals affected is in the thousands. However, the final diagnosis can only be determined during the autopsy, and there is currently no treatment option. Alzheimer’s, dementia and depression are often a late consequence of the many blows the head has to take.
The show must go on
The league is accused of not protecting the players enough. The product sells too well. If it rumbles properly, it goes down well with the fans. The NFL has adjusted some rules, among other things it is forbidden to crash helmet first into an opponent’s helmet. And players with suspected concussions are immediately examined by specialist staff on the line.
Jeff Smith is scrutinized right off the field.Image: imago
But the league doesn’t seem to want to change too much. She prefers to dig deep into her wallet, true to the motto “The show must go on”: she has already transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to those affected. The NFL can afford this and took in eleven billion dollars last year. The players are suffering. It is no wonder that many parents hope that their son will choose another sport where the risk of serious head injuries is less.