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Friday, January 28, 2011

NFL Fails again on Post Career Care

NFL officials and representatives for the NFL Players Association are far apart on the agreement of a new CBA. It is hypocritical to say in one breath, they want a new deal done, but in another breath along with  no action, not aggressively negotiate. On top of an already controversial topic, add to that the article written by John Barr about the misuse of painkillers by NFL players. According to the article, Barr states that retired NFL players misuse pain medications at more than four times that of the general population. I personally would have thought the number would be higher, however I am in agreement with Barr. In relation to the CBA and the possible 18 game schedule the owners are pushing for, I think this is another issue that is going to affect NFL CBA.

If the number is more than four times the general population now, imagine adding two more games on top of that. I am fully aware the general population compared to the NFL is difficult. Dr. Lawrence Brown quotes "It is scientifically flawed to compare the general population with athletes, active or retired. NFL players understandably would be more susceptible to the misuse of painkillers simply due to their increased exposure to the drugs during their playing days.If you don't have the exposure, you're less likely to misuse." While I agree with Dr. Brown to an extent, I think him using that as his reason for why the NFL has failed to take care of retired players is ridiculous. The exposure of drugs of all kinds, to the general population may be the same or even greater than that of a player in the NFL.  I also think that Dr. Brown may be  upset that the first scientific study of painkiller use and misuse by former NFL players was done by Dr. Linda Cottler and researchers at Washington University in St. Louis of Medicine and not the NFL.  Way to go NFL substance abuse program ! Staying ahead of the curve I see.

Dr. Cottler and her research team also  found that there were very few men who only took painkillers once or twice. Most used on a regular basis.  As to possible solutions, screenings and other methods have been suggested as well.  According to Dr. Brown,"The NFL has the most intrusive drug testing of any sport." I am gonna go on record and say that's not entirely accurate. Here's why. While the NFL program tests for PED's, alcohol, etc, street drugs and pain killers normally get overlooked. Furthermore, if you have an injury or have had surgery and experience pain and discomfort, all the player has to do is tell the trainer, trainer tells the team doctor, player gets painkillers. It's really that simple. So even if they are "aggressively" testing for it, it's validated by the prescription from the team doctor, which makes the test invalid from the beginning !

I personally overcame the misuse of alcohol, I have taken painkillers before. I clearly understand what the players both current and retired are going through. I was fortunate enough to overcome it. Studies of this nature should continue in order to show the owners and the NFL, they are not doing enough taking care of players post career, need to do more for the current players,  and with concussions now reportedly increasing, issues like health care, revenue sharing and other related topics really need to be compromised on. This study  is clearly something the almighty NFL has missed on. I find it insulting that outside sources with no necessary connection to the NFL are taking the time and resources to understand what current and retired NFL players are going through, and what can be done to help prevent further damage to the players in the future, while the NFL and it's owners are only concerned with the almighty dollar as usual.

1 comment:

  1. [...] brutal sport, with bruises and nagging injuries slowly taking their toll on players as the season (and years) goes on. The current schedule seems to be the perfect setup — long enough to make it [...]

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