Through his final NFL season, D'Brickashaw Ferguson penned some interesting first-hand articles for Sports Illustrated. One that has some resonance today is a piece from December when the movie Concussion was in the news. Brick talked about the movie and the NFL's poor record with head injuries.
Though I am familiar with examples of offensive lineman who have experienced concussions, it was still my contention that the offensive line was one of the safer positions when it came to being susceptible to head injuries. As I’ve come to find out, it isn’t just the large collisions that can be problematic, but rather the smaller collisions that don’t even amount to concussions but happen far more frequently, that are the real catalysts leading to CTE. Mike Webster was believed to have participated in about 25,000 violent collisions.
After learning all of this, I feel a bit betrayed by the people or committees put in place by the league who did not have my best interests at heart.
Dr. Elliot Pellman was one of the Jets’ team doctors when I was a rookie in 2006, and to learn that he was a part of the group that tried to discredit the scope and impact of brain injuries among players within the league is disheartening.
Since seeing Concussion, I can’t avoid wondering if I am in danger of experiencing some degree of brain injury when I am done playing. It couldn’t happen to me, right?
The more that comes out, the worse the NFL looks when it comes to these head injuries. The league doesn't really have a ton of credibility left on this issue.
We don't know for sure the reasons behind D'Brickashaw's decision. Big moves like this are frequently due to a number of factors. In the days and weeks to come, we will hear plenty both directly from D'Brickashaw and behind the scenes about what went into his decision to call it a career.
His words from a few months ago might carry some resonance today. The NFL has seen a number of young players retire over the last two years. Brick might not fit so neatly into that category. He was a 10 year veteran and over 30 years old. Still, he easily could have hung around for a few more years and added millions to his bank account.
For those of you old enough to remember, the sport of football was almost banned early in the 1900's because of deaths that occurred on the field. A number of reforms were instituted, including allowing the forward pass. As the number of players retiring early grows, the sport might slowly be heading to its biggest crisis since.