Craig Remsburg column: NFL could have done much more for retired players

Anyone who has seen media reports about former NFL players suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia due to repeated concussions they experienced during their playing days has to flinch.

It’s not fun to watch. These players might be able to remember a play or a game 20 years ago, but can’t recall what they did the day before or even their wives’/childrens’ names.

Headaches, dizziness, memory loss, depression and cognitive dysfunction are all part of these former players’ lives from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they go to bed at night.

Repeated blows to the head over a span of years will do that to a person.

These ex-NFL players’ lives are a living hell, if they’re even aware of what has happened to them. For their loved ones who must deal with this nightmare on a daily basis, it might even be worse.

Recently, the NFL reached a settlement with more than 4,500 affected players to pay $765 million for their care and future medical exams.

It seems like a lot of money, but one has to question the amount paid out when you think how profitable the NFL is every year.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell noted this week the settlement was reached by the NFL, the former players and a mediator after two months of court-mandated talks.

Under the settlement, the NFL doesn’t have to admit allegations it hid information about concussions and hurried affected players back to the playing field too soon.

“We think it’s the right thing to move forward and try to do what we can to help our players,” Goodell said.

Former players in need of financial support will get it now rather than wait years through litigation. The NFL is also taking concussions more seriously these days.

It can be said the former players have to take some responsibility for their current health conditions. After all, they knew football is a violent game and they would be susceptible to head injuries, even with so-called protective helmets.

But the league could have paid more in the settlement and provided full disclosure of what it knew/knows about the lifetime affects of repeated concussions.

Even with the settlement, this entire issue will be revisited for years to come.

And well it should. NFL players, even though they knowingly play a violent sport and could suffer lifetime pain and other health problems by doing so, must be protected as much as possible.

To do otherwise would be a travesty.