Concussions in the NFL

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It’s no secret football can be dangerous. The padding and protective gear on a football player alone can weigh up to 20 pounds. Headgear began to be worn in the sport in the early 1900s, but they weren’t required until the mid-1940s. Many researchers have also shown the connection between concussions in the National Football League (NFL) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which can cause suicide, memory loss, depression, and dementia. Concussions are also one of the leading causes of death among football players.

How Do Concussions Happen?

Concussions occur when the head and brain are subjected to a large impact force. The word concussion derives from the Latin word concutere, meaning “to shake violently.” This is what happens exactly to the brain when the head meets severe force. The skull essentially stops moving, while the brain continues to travel. The brain smashes into the bone of the skull, causing damage to sensitive brain tissue. Common symptoms include:

  • Imbalance
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vision change
  • Hearing change
  • Mood change
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

However, not all concussions result in a loss of consciousness. Most people, in fact, remain conscious despite the trauma to their brain.

Why Are Football Players Susceptible?

Despite the introduction of helmets to football, tackles can knock a player off their feet and slam their head with incredible force. Some of the heaviest players in sports are in the NFL, and the average weight of a football player is around 210 pounds. The mass of the average player combined with his speed can produce up to 1,600 pounds of tackling force. Not only can players be hit with a high-speed football throw, but they face high-impact tackles and blows from other NFL athletes.

Concussion Consequences

Even small concussions can be dangerous. Unless someone sustains an outward wound as well, it’s too difficult to tell how serious a concussion is. Someone with a mild concussion could have sustained internal bleeding, but only a licensed professional with the right equipment could diagnose it. There are several grades of concussions—grade 1 (mild), grade 2 (moderate), and grade 3 (severe).

Grade 3 concussions happen if the victim loses consciousness for more than 5 minutes and any posttraumatic amnesia lasts for more than 24 hours. Because doctors still understand so little about the brain, it can be difficult to predict how a concussion will affect brain function later on. If a football player sustains repeated concussions, the athlete could experience CTE and other degenerative conditions. Symptoms of CTE include:

  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Social instability
  • Erratic behavior
  • Poor judgment
  • Dementia
  • Slower muscular movements
  • Hypomimia
  • Impeded speech
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Deafness
  • Suicide

The symptoms worsen as players progress to different stages. They also begin 8 to 10 years after experiencing repetitive mild traumatic brain injuries. Repetitive concussions have also been linked to ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.


If you’re a victim of this kind of head trauma, you do have options. While there is no cure for severe brain damage, you might need help paying for medical bills and therapeutic treatment. Certain NFL players are eligible for compensation for injuries sustained on the job. Contact our experienced attorneys to talk to us about your case.

We have a network of qualified specialists in place to help you determine whether or not you are eligible for an NFL concussion settlement. Let us help you prepare your case. Join hundreds of former NFL and Member Club players who are aggressively seeking recognition in this settlement. Smith & Stallworth, Attorneys at Law, can help you through this trying time.

Call us or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

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