Fred Pettus, a former defensive end at the University of Richmond, got his first concussion as an 18-year-old when he hit his head on a bench after making a tackle. His last one came in 1989 in a televised night game against James Madison University.
He hasn’t played any sort of contact sport since that last hit. His life was changed forever and now, according to thinkprogress.org, he’s one of hundreds of plaintiffs currently suing the NCAA, as well as various member conferences and schools, for their carelessness and inaction when it comes to brain injury prevention, education, and treatment.
“...he’s never watched the footage of the hit. He just remembers the impact it had on his life. His eyes were jittery for a month.
He couldn’t walk straight for a week. Occasionally, he’d try and sit down in a chair in class, and miss. At a hometown high-school football game with his mother, he lost his balance while walking up the bleachers, and fell face first into a woman’s crotch. For a star athlete who had realistic dreams of playing in the NFL, it was a humiliating, humbling experience.”
“It’s just the equilibrium will, at any time, disappear,” he told ThinkProgress in a phone interview this month. “I still struggle with that now. I have to stumble and catch myself. It happens quite frequently.”
As college football basks in the glory of another ratings-rocking, money-generating College Football National championship and the coaches get paid while the players get praised, the harsh realities and high price of competing in the sport and the negative effects it has on so many players once the confetti drops and the band stops playing remains troubling.
People say football is a dying sport, not because less people are watching, but because the long-term negative effects of the sport on the human brain and cognitive functions is making it pretty clear that popping pads is not only a dangerous risk to your quality of life, but a death sentence in many instances.
According to Thinkprogress, “hundreds upon hundreds of individual lawsuits dealing with concussion management have been filed against the NCAA in recent years. In 2014, the NCAA settled one class-action suit for $75 million that was to be distributed for medical monitoring services for athletes.”
NCAA settles head injury lawsuit; creates $70m fund to test athletes for brain injuries: http://t.co/kgsYRBf3LU
Football’s refusal to admit that this overflow of evidence is totally accurate as hundreds of players have stepped forward and revealed the horror stories that have become their post-football lives and studies have been done identifying CTE in almost all of the deceased former football players’ brains studied, has made the NFL and NCAA look exploitive, particularly concerning the underserved African-American athletes that have helped universities make billions of dollars but had nothing but bad health and a busted brain once they left school.
NFL concussion litigation settlement includes no direct coverage for CTE and, as common in major settlements, no admission of NFL liability.
“The school is making money. The NCAA is making money. Everybody’s making money and then us poor kids are out there banging ourselves up,” Pettus told Thinkprogress. “And when it’s all said and done, we’re sent out there in the world to fend for ourselves. That’s not fair. There should be some sort of restitution set aside for future medical issues.”
The Shadow League has written extensively on the exploitative ways of the NCAA and how the financial foundations of many of these universities were built on the blood, guts and sweat of minority athletes looking for an opportunity to better their circumstances. From naming and likeness rights to concussions and medical, psychological and financial support post-football, we are finally understanding that the players have always gotten the short end of the stick.
Thinkprogress reports that “more than 100 plaintiffs have joined Pettus in an ongoing class-action lawsuit, which alleges that the NCAA knew about the risks of repeated head impacts for decades but did nothing to educate or protect its students, and still has substandard safety protocols regarding brain injuries to this day.”
Aside from NFL protests and greedy or racist owners and the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL and NCAA has a larger problem and it lies in the number of players that are receiving brain injuries from playing football. It’s a truth that can no longer be denied and the settlements the sport of football continuously pays out in the courts give credibility to this truth.