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September 22, 2013

NFL On The Field

I’m in the mood for a bit of controversy today. So lets talk about the law suit against the National Football League from last month in which a settlement of $765,000,000 (all those zeros translate to $765 MILLION) between players and the NFL.

I don’t want to see people injured. And I definitely feel empathy and am sorry for all the athletes who have been involved in head injuries and have suffered brain damage from concussions while playing professional football. However, I have to say it reminds me of the lawsuit in which the woman won some crazy amount when she sued McDonald’s for the burns to her legs when the McDonald’s hot coffee (which she knew was HOT COFFEE) spilled and burnt her because she chose to try and balance the coffee between her legs so she could drink it while she drove.

McDonald's Coffee1

I don’t know if she had a little spot in her car made to put the coffee and chose not to use it or if maybe she was afraid it would spill on her car interior. But I do know one thing…she wasn’t all that afraid to try and balance the coffee in between her legs while she drove so she could drink it.

The fact that McDonald’s lost this suit is still amazing to me. I understand that coffee should be a certain temperature but how does THAT become the issue rather than how dumb it was for her not to be more careful with hot coffee. Where does HER responsibility in this situation lie?

I respect athletes and know that many of them work unbelievably hard to get into pro ball and earn the astronomical amounts of money that they do. (We will discuss Tim Tebo being offered $1,000,000 {that is $1 million} to play football in Russia and turning it down at a later time.) But isn’t it pretty much expected that you are going to get hit in the head some time or another if you’re playing pro football?

Maybe you wouldn’t expect it if you were a professional swimmer or a figure skater, but I would think that it sort of goes with the turf for pro football and pro hockey. I don’t know, maybe I’m expecting too much here. And I most certainly don’t think it is very compassionate of the NFL to withhold information about the dangers of concussions, but here again; it is not as if studies on the subject are classified information and kept under lock and key.

I’m thinking that might be something that would cross my mind BEFORE I made the choice to play pro ball so me and my loved ones could weigh out the pros and cons and some of the inherent risks the decision holds.

Here again, I’m forced to ask, where does the personal responsibility come into play? Because to me, it looks as if it doesn’t come into play at all!

Sputtering Bohemoth

After graduating from college with my Masters Degree, I worked as a clinical social worker for an agency, making considerably less money annually than even the lowliest of pro ball players. One September, they began a new school-based program and wanted me to take the position. The ‘room’ I was to be working in most of the time from 8:30 to 5:00 M-F was a storage room next to some type of mechanical behemoth that made this loud whirring sound for hours on end and spit out this filmy smog every so often.

I feared it might be unhealthy for me to be inhaling that in such an enclosed area and opted not to take the ‘promotion.’ It might have even threatened my position with the agency by saying I wouldn’t work under those conditions, however, I spoke about it with my husband and children and we decided together that it seemed risky and we decided the best thing to do was to refuse the post.

I seriously doubt that if I DID accept the position and DID get sick, I would have been likely to turn around and sue the agency for ‘making’ me work there. Perhaps, if I lost my job entirely by turning down the post, then I could have some type of a beef. But that is not the issue with the NFL and the players. They are not saying they were ‘forced’ to get a concussion.

NFL Index

I would love to get your take on this because I read today that Ex-Chicago Bear, Gale Sayers of Brian Piccolo’ fame is suing the NFL for unspecified damages because he suffered headaches and short-term memory loss after he retired from pro ball. He claims the NFL didn’t protect him from the “devastating concussive head traumas.” The suit claims the NFL is directly responsible for not doing enough to warn him that playing through concussions could cause permanent brain damage.

I guess my agency needed to tell warn me in advance that in case the smoke that pumped out from the mechanical behemoth in that storage closet caused me to get cancer, I would be very sick.


Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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