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NFL head injuries prompt fines, brain concerns
October 20th, 2010
12:51 PM ET

NFL head injuries prompt fines, brain concerns

The National Football League has fined three players $50,000 to $75,000 for violent helmet-to-helmet hits - which have been known to be devastating for players.

The league has been criticized for being too lax with head blows and the league's new medical committee members earlier this year  vowed to change that culture.

After several players were injured Sunday in what some fans and observers perceived as a particularly violent weekend of football, the NFL pledged on Tuesday to be more vigilant about ejecting and/or suspending players who have made flagrant hits.

The problem is by no means confined to the professional ranks. On Saturday, Rutgers defensive end Eric LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down after his tackle on an Army player during a kickoff return.

Besides concussions, the concern is that the jarring blows to the head might accumulate damage to the brain without showing any symptoms.  Autopsies of football players have found a brain condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE.  This can cause neurobehavioral disorders and bizarre behavior.

Former NFL players who took poundings to their heads from Pop Warner to the pros, like former San Francisco 49ers lineman George Visger has lived by scrawling the minutiae of his daily life on hundreds of small yellow notebooks, reminding himself when he left the house, when he got coffee.  His is one of several cases of ex-NFL athletes struggling with memory loss, depression and sudden, frightening bouts of rage.

"I get up in the morning and I have no clue what I have to do that day. If it's not written down it doesn't exist," Visger told CNN earlier this year.

The effects of the concussions can start early.  CNN.com: Concussions extra dangerous to teen brains.

The neurobehavioral symptoms of the brain damage are complex. In September, a 21-year-old football player who committed suicide was found to have CTE.  And in July,  it was announced that a former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver had played in the NFL while having this type of brain damage.  Chris Henry died in December 2009 after falling from the bed of a moving pickup during a fight with his fiancée. His death was considered a tragic and bizarre end to a life plagued by behavioral problems.


soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Timothy Bug

    Instead of fines, the offending players should be required to play the next game without a helmut.

    October 20, 2010 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lalala

      your stupid. HAHAHA

      October 20, 2010 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • Constantine

      Hhaha – well that fixes that

      October 21, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • Dwight

      This is to the idiot that said the peerson should have to play the next game without a helmet.
      I think you must have taken a few shots on you "MELON" to make such a "STUPID STATMENT".

      a $50,000, or $75,000.00 fine is peanuts for thses guys that make a few million $,s a season.
      Make them sit out about 5 games.
      You can be sure that no coach is going to want to have one of his players sit out for that many games.
      Sure, getting it has always, & will always be part of football, but it is to the point where some kind of action has to be taken before someone gets killed.

      November 23, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
  2. Mikedog

    It's all Obama's fault

    October 20, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lalala

      oh ok blame it on the president kay kay your an ass

      October 20, 2010 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
    • Ryashon

      To lalala, so your saying hat just because hes black right? if he was white and we blamed the president what would you say then ingnorant ass.

      October 21, 2010 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
  3. DanInSoCal

    Really, the best way to avoid these injuries to to have all players play without helmets. They give a false sense of security. There is no way that anyone would hit this hard if they didn't have the helmet on.

    October 20, 2010 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lalala

      very true that is a smart way to look at it....it would never happen, but smart...

      October 20, 2010 at 18:27 | Report abuse |
    • Monam

      What a beautiful seisson . it looks so carefree and fun! Super, super cute family and mom looks so good pregnant! Gorgeous little girl, too. My favorites are from the last location. Wonderful job as always, Erin!

      December 19, 2012 at 06:29 | Report abuse |
  4. Jesus

    This is a very serious problem. Just look at all the football players retired 20 years or more. Dementia is all too prevalent.

    October 20, 2010 at 20:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bobby

    why dont you have them play flag football,

    October 20, 2010 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. bobby

    they get paid to take them hits

    October 20, 2010 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. nick

    i wouldnt be football if hits like that werent allowed. those are the hits everone wants to see.

    October 20, 2010 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Winston5

      I like seeing a good, legal hit. Seeing DeSean Jackson (aka "The Walking Highlight Reel") twitching on the ground was damn near sickening.

      October 20, 2010 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
  8. george

    maybe, just maybe all the new styles of helmets figure into it.

    October 20, 2010 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Arthur

    There is reason to believe that head trauma is a contributing factor in Parkinson's Disease. Just attended the Young Onset Parkinson Disease Conference in Atlanta. Here's a link to a music video about Parkinson's. Some video interviews from the conference are on the same user channel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlxcZ_CHDVo

    October 21, 2010 at 00:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Constantine

      Wow – you posted a vid in the comments – nice

      October 21, 2010 at 00:22 | Report abuse |
  10. Constantine

    RAGE – i think these fits are caused by the steroids

    October 21, 2010 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. mmi16

    NFL players are much to 'padded'. The pads (and helmet) that are worn have become offensive weapons in the war that is football. Also players, at the Pro level and bigger, stronger and faster than any generation that has come before....the impact in the 'old days' was between a couple of 180-200 pounders with 4.8 or so 40 yard speed....today you are getting impacts between 250-270 pounders with 4.5 40 yard speed...a Quantum Leap in the energy generated from the impact.

    October 21, 2010 at 03:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Babies

    Poor big babies. If they can't handle the risk, they should get another job. They are paid very well for a few hours of work 20 or so days out of the year.

    October 21, 2010 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Richard

      I agree and disagree to what all you guys have to say. I agree that hard hits is what everyone loves but I don't want to see head shots. These guys are do not only work couple of hours for 20 days they damn well work a lot more than that. Players like Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, and even Patrick Willis hit hard but usually not illegal to the rules. It is uncalled for when you aim and hit another player's helmet with yours. If any one of you guys would like to play like that you should be in the NFL.

      October 21, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  13. sup

    If we didn't have brains they couldn't get injured

    October 21, 2010 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    I have enjoyed watching football for many years, but the brutality has to stop. What other sport has people launching themselves full speed, head first, with a hard helmet weapon at another player's head, who is also running full speed but looking the other way at a ball? What other sport regularly has players getting paralyzed, brain damaged for life, and dying? I love football as a sport, but football in its current form should be banned by Congress. I cannot see how top athletes should risk their lives and permanent physical and mental incapacitation for a game. Football has become barbaric and evokes Roman gladiators killing their victims for sport. How can this continue in modern day?

    The hard football helmet weapon has to be changed to a soft helmet that protects the head but cannot be used to injure another player.

    It is a travesty that the NFL has not suspended a single player for vicious, life-threatening helmet to helmet hits.

    When former footballl players' brains were examined at autopsy, 86% revealed CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), an extremely rare form of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head and which leads to dementia, depression, movement disorders, suicide. The NFL is fully aware of this info. The NFL stated three years ago that it would suspend players for helmet to helmet hits. Not a single player has been suspended, not even after this weekend's series of serious injuries. Congress needs to step in and stop this madness!

    October 21, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. jayman419

    These articles always drag out the sad-sack cases. The former players who blew their money and still have health issues.

    Why not talk to Terry Bradshaw about how terrible football is to its players? Or Joe Namath? Or Jerome Bettis? Or any of the literally thousands of people who got RICH playing a GAME and yet somehow managed not to make themselves retarded in the process?

    October 21, 2010 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Robert

      I postulate that all football players, including Terry Bradshaw, Joe Namath, Jerome Bettis, etc. have suffered some brain trauma and subsequent lowering of their IQ from playing football.

      October 21, 2010 at 18:32 | Report abuse |
  16. Michael Vick

    If the players were animals, the owners and coaches would be arrested and jailed for cruelty to animals.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. owarfhupwairepqughqpugh

    Brain- dead droolies will create more health care jobs and save our economy.

    October 21, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Bob

    Is the Football season over yet????

    October 21, 2010 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. number8

    Football is about getting hit. If you do not want to get hit like that do not play football or do not play an offensive position. I'm a defensive back and I live for those routes because I can jack people up and its fun, that's the game, the NFL has too many fines, let the game be played as it is supposed to, and if a player can't handle the heat he shouldn't play with fire.

    October 21, 2010 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.