Junior Seau’s tragic suicide in 2012 rocked the sports world and officially brought awareness of CTE and brain damage brought on by years of NFL brutality, to the forefront of everyone’s conscious. But while the violence of the game deserves a majority of the blame for the deterioration of these guys brains, not everyone thinks it should be the only thing blamed.
The common rebuttal to the argument that the NFL is too violent is that the guys who play the game know what they’re signing up for. Bernard Pollard subscribes to the idea that the game is getting watered down and his fellow safety Ed Reed agrees. Speaking to the media, Reed said while Junior Seau’s decline and suicide was insanely tragic, he knew what he was signing up for when he joined the NFL.
“Did he sign up for it?’ Yeah, he signed up to play football. Things are going to happen. Do I want it to happen? No. When I was on a golf course, did I want to hear about Junior Seau? No, I didn’t want to hear that. I grew up watching him play. That was a sad day, a sad day,” Reed said. “Junior gave everything to football, and I’m sure he’s looking down with no regrets.”
Reed’s sentiment seems to be echoed by others in the NFL, and it really shows that there is indeed two sides to this debate. While it’s tragic that these guys are sacrificing their lives for our entertainment, who are we to tell them what to do with their lives? If they want to punish themselves, and live for the moment while paying the price later in life, that’s not a decision for us to make.
A great analogy is the damage smoking does later in life. Smoking is an addiction, and it destroys your body but football and competition is also an addiction which equally destroys your body.
The bottom line is we can make the game safer but we can’t convince these guys to change their lifestyle is they don’t want to. We will see if Reed still saying the same thing in fifteen years when his body is falling apart and his brain is scrambled. It’s easy to accept the repercussions when they aren’t happening to you, the only way to truly speak on the matter is to go through everything guys like Seau and Dave Duerson went through and then make a judgment.