Concussions and the former player lawsuits
Concussions, head trauma and player safety have become the huge debate surrounding the NFL these days. To date some 2,200 former players have joined in class action lawsuits, claiming that the league did not protect them even when it knew more about the inherent risks involved in playing the game than they let on.
The league maintains that they have always put player safety ahead of all else. While I think most of us don't buy this, how much responsibility should be put on the league, the individual teams, and the players themselves?
We all know that football is a dangerous sport. We all have a hundred memories of vicious hits that hurt to watch, but also got our blood pumping to watch some more. I personally remember Mike Harden hitting Steve Largent so hard in 1987 that he shattered his facemask and busted out his front teeth. Largent sustained a serious concussion on the play and left the game, but denied that revenge played any factor when, upon playing the Broncos again that season, Largent took Harden out in a similar fashion. The exchange is one that is still talked about by Seahawk fans today, and I'm sure they haven't forgotten about it in Denver either.
What amazes me about the whole thing is that the NFL has taken such a hard stance that it now doesn't even have the ability to fix what it broke. If the league were to start helping these players now it would be akin to admitting fault; evidently they would rather be right than do what is right.
Whether or not the league should be responsible is what will be debated in the courtrooms. My argument isn't really about that. The bottom line is that those players made billions of dollars for the NFL during their playing days. Players continue to make billions of dollars for the league every year. So why not take care of those that take care of you.
I have a solution.
Each team should donate $1 million per year from their TV revenues. With new deals coming up, it would be money they hadn't seen yet anyway.
The league would then take that $32 million and invest it in safe, dividend paying securities. They could make about 5% interest on this fund annually, and give that money (about $1.5 million the first year) to former players. As each year goes by, the fund would grow, as would the amount they could give to the former players. While at first the players might complain that it isn't enough, and some might be left in the dark, it would be a start, and over the course of time would end up being plenty. In 30 years it would be nearly a billion dollars and would pay out an annual sum of $50 million.
What do you think should be done?