Brains donated to science of former football players tested positive for brain disease. Out of 91 former players, 87 tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a type of brain disease that is progressively degenerative; this type of disease can be linked to repeated head trauma.
Recently, head traumas, such as concussions have been brought to the forefront. Coaches and staff are no longer overlooking the powerful impact football has on the body.
Former NFL cornerback, Roderick Hood, who played a majority of his career with Philadelphia Eagles, says that concussions weren’t always a priority.
“Concussions have just now become a point of concern, because of the guys who have committed suicide,” Hood said. “That’s when everything started to shift.”
Several football players have committed suicide. One well known death was of Jovan Belcher, of the Kansas City Chiefs, who killed his wife and himself. His brain had traces of CTE.
After the death of Belcher in 2012, head trauma was severely looked at and concussions were taken seriously.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) knows they are molding potential NFL players and are taking preventative measures to help elongate their player’s careers.
Akima Abrakata-Dina, FAMU head athletic trainer, says they are sure to prepare young athletes, and proper preparation prevents concussions.
“Coaches are conservative with their players,” Abrakata-Dina said. “Coaches emphasize proper techniques of tackling or trying to receive a hit from players.”
Mateo Kambui, a fourth-year psychology student and offensive center from Wichita, Kan., says that the staff is informative, and in the beginning of the season the players attend orientation that explains the symptoms of a concussion.
He also admits to putting football before his health.
“Playing football you’re always getting dinged up, but through the struggle, you put your pads on and play,” Kambui said.
Kambui says it is not uncommon for players to downplay their injuries to remain on the field. Hood agrees, and says it happens all the time and is not a surprise because most college athletes have aspirations of being in the NFL.
“Guys at the college level might be slow to reveal concussions because it’s a focus point now and they don’t want to seem prone to concussions because it might not help them in the draft or make it to the team,” Hood said.
Dina says her team knows that players won’t always tell the truth and that is why it is important for the athletic trainers to be there.
“It’s all about their pride,” Abrakata-Dina said. “We are there to observe. To pick up on the things they won’t tell us.”
A lawsuit was settled earlier this year allotting up to $5 million per retired athlete with severe medical conditions related to head trauma.
Even though 95 percent of the brains tested had CTE, it does not mean 95 percent of football players will have it as well. FAMU football team and staff intends to stay informed and abide by the proper protocol for all injuries to maintain longevity in the sport they love.