The NFL has been sued by former players for both concussions and pain pill abuse, prompting me to wonder when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) psychological problems will be the next litigation players file against the NFL? PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder and often occurs following significant, traumatic life events (typically things like being exposed to war or sexual abuse). In the case of NFL players, it could be argued that many players today suffer from anxiety stemming from the severe trauma they witnessed while playing, including excruciating hits, broken bones (including compound fractures), concussions, and even paralysis. Many sport psychologists would agree these are certainly examples of events that could lead to long-term mental distress.
Thus far, player lawsuits against the league have centered more around physical pain and suffering, as evidenced by the player complaints around head injuries (brain trauma) and pain pills (physiological addiction and physical body break downs). To me, it only seems like a matter of time before players get together and talk about the trauma they have experienced in their lives since their playing days ended. This trauma, or PTSD, may eventually lead to yet another very serious lawsuit against the NFL.
While its nearly impossible to say whether the violence of the NFL may have contributed to PTSD, it may not be that difficult of an argument to create “reasonable doubt” when you consider just how violent the NFL has become. With players bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before, I don’t think very many people would disagree that the players may have a legitimate case if they ever decide to pursue this angle and sue the league.
It’s an interesting time for the NFL right now – while ratings and popularity have never been better, there seems to be a big legal problem always lurking around the next corner for the league. What used to simply be pity displayed by the league toward guys who had difficulties after sport retirement has now turned into a regular onslaught of litigation against the league for what the players are calling life altering consequences because of the unhealthy work conditions the league established for the players. Personally, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if PTSD ends up being the next shoe to fall on the league, as it seems only a matter of time before the players (and lawyers) connect the dots to this psychological disorder.
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