Today I came home from work, put on my pajamas, turned on SportsCenter, and opened my email. The first thing in my inbox was an email from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
You can read the said email here.
At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it right away, but the first line glued me in:
Dear NFL Fans:
The letter below was distributed today to all current and former NFL players, as well as team and league personnel. We will continue to update you on important league initiatives.
Well OK, Mr. Commish, you have my attention.
There is no higher priority for the National Football League than the health and wellness of our players.
This letter is introducing the new NFL Total Wellness program for players and all team personnel. Need to know more? Here’s the next paragraph:
NFL Total Wellness will empower players to make positive health decisions; promote help-seeking behaviors in connection with behavioral and mental health issues; provide education on family safety; and enhance transition programs that help players adjust to new stages of life.
Finally, something official and on paper. It’s become pretty apparent in recent years how hits in NFL games have caused head traumas that are affecting the lives of current and former players.
The most recent and tragic event that has started the topic was the suicide of former San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau. Seau was found with a gunshot wound to his chest. AFter this many couldn’t help but remember the tragic suicide of Dave Duerson. The former Chicago Bears safety was found in 2011 with a shot to his chest, but before he passed he sent a text message to his family asking for his brain to be used for research for trauma, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, from playing professional football. Seau never had concussions on record, but his ex-wife said he did suffer from concussions during his career. Seau always had the heart of a warrior and never reported injuries.
During the 2012 offseason, the NFLPA filed several lawsuits against the commissioner for not acting strongly enough after a large amount of evidence that the game is causing long term health problems due to many hits to the head.
Another part of this new program also intrigued my interest:
One new service, NFL Life Line, launches today as part of our support system. NFL Life Line is a free, independent and confidential phone consultation service and website available to all members of the NFL family, including current and former players, coaches, team and league staff, and their family members. This type of employee assistance service is considered a model for companies across all sectors.
Interesting. You can learn more about the NFL Life Line by visiting here.
The life line is available to players and personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Calls are 100% confidential and will not be shared with the NFL office.
And there was this nifty video featuring former players about the life line:
This is a huge step in the right direction for the NFL. Yes, Goodell was trying to start a process of protecting players by handing out flags, penalties, fines and suspensions for questionable hits, but it obviously isn’t enough. You can argue that Goodell is only watch his own back for future lawsuits. I mean, why wouldn’t he? Do you want to be sued by these guys? I didn’t think so.
As far as looking after player safety, this seems like a great program, and for the sake of the NFL and NFLPA, I hope it helps.