Lions’ Levy: ‘Compensation isn’t an excuse’ for NFL to deny risks (Shutdown Corner)

We’ve heard quite a bit lately from NFL owners and league commissioner Roger Goodell when it comes to the dangers of playing football and its likely link to CTE and other traumatic brain issues, and the league seems especially fired up about the New York Times’ report last week on the NFL knowingly touting flawed concussion research for years. But we haven’t yet heard much from current players. That changed on Wednesday, when the Detroit Free Press posted an e-mail beat writer Dave Birkett received from Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy. Birkett reached out to Levy after Levy posted a photo on Instagram that included a caption critical of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. In an interview with Sports Business Journal at last week’s NFL meetings, Irsay compared the risks of playing football to the risks of taking aspirin, yet another tone-deaf comparison from one of the supposed stewards of the game. Just days before the Super Bowl, Goodell said laying on one’s couch is risky when asked about the number of players who are retiring relatively young, citing their health in the process. Birkett was looking for more insight from Levy on his Irsay post, and also asked why he continues to play football despite concerns over brain injuries. In a long response, which the Free Press posted with just minor editing, Levy offered his impassioned thoughts and was critical of the league. Some highlights: “I had a lot of hours in the training room [Levy played in just one game last season due to a hip injury] and realized how normal injury is to us, as football players. I think about how we’re almost numb to it because it’s a part of the job. I became numb to the fact that CTE could be present in me. Like maybe my head buzzing a day after a game isn’t normal. Maybe the emotional highs and lows of a football game/season and beyond aren’t normal. Maybe when I forget something, there’s more to it than just forgetfulness. Disconnected thoughts, at times, might be a part of it. I know of and have heard many players talk about these same issues and if they relate to CTE.” “Compensation isn’t an excuse to hide or downplay the facts. We need to know the risks  and  the rewards. This is an area in which the league has failed its players. Not only never talking about the risks, but some people going a step further to deny and cover it up. It’s imperative to help make players, current and future, more aware of all of the challenges they may face as a result of the choice to play football. We need to have the opportunity to really understand what each other may be going through. It’s scary to think I may have CTE.” “I’m going to pull a Jim Caldwell (the Lions’ coach) and drop a quote that resonates with me: ‘Silence is an action.’ That’s why I feel the need to say something.” “The only voices we have on the subject are the league, which, unfortunately, has shown it can’t be trusted. So far, we’ve had a rheumatologist with questionable credentials [Dr. Elliot Pellman] telling us that there is no link between concussions and CTE, and aided in covering it up, yet is still employed by the NFL. …I’m not asking for this game to be any less dangerous nor risky, I’m asking for there to be transparency about those risks and allow people to make their own, informed decisions. As I’ve stated before, I’m choosing to continue to play in spite of CTE or any other post-football health issue that may arise. But that choice doesn’t justify continued denial and deflection of this issue when we now know better and have the opportunity to do better.” “Players make billions for the league; wouldn’t learning more preserve the longevity of the game? It seems they’re operating in a fear that if the real consequences are known, the sport will be in danger. The major danger is failing to be transparent.” It’s well worth your time to read Levy’s full letter , as it’s clear he’s well-informed and understands he’s taking a risk by playing, but wants to know the full extent of what he may have to deal with once he retires.  

from Yahoo Sports



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