Basic common sense tells you there is a major problem with the game. The authors of League of Denial have shown that the league has contradicted itself on the dangers of concussions. The NFL also settled the lawsuit by former players for $765 million presumably in part to avoid the spectacle of a public trail. At least the league has started taking steps to reduce the risk of concussion by outlawing helmet to helmet hits and the targeting of defenseless receivers.
There is the conundrum in that the more the NFL tries to develop a “safer” helmet the more the players like to use it as a weapon. Maybe the league should go back to leather helmets so the urge to use them as a battering ram would disappear. There is no easy fix.
Perhaps the best solution is to realize there isn’t one. Players and parents need to understand that there is an inherent risk in playing football and that you can’t simply sue the “deep pockets” whenever something goes awry and claim ignorance. The NFL needs to understand that retired players are going to suffer and it’s their obligation to provide lifetime health coverage once they’ve been vested in the league more than a couple of years.
The worst thing to happen is for players to think they’re immortal and the league to pretend there isn’t a direct link between concussions and brain damage. Nothing will change then and that will hurt everyone. League of Denial is an excellent primer for understanding the entire issue of concussions, the research behind it and how the NFL has reacted to it. It’s a topic that will only get bigger over time.