Following the death of Junior Seau in 2012 and reports that one in three NFL players suffer brain trauma later in life after their football careers, many are calling into question football's safety and the long-term effects of playing the sport. This week, San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Chris Borland announced his retirement, telling ESPN "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk. ... I'm concerned that if you wait (until) you have symptoms, it's too late." Will Borland's move make an impact on other young players and will we see more NFL stars taking themselves out of the game?
Back in January 2013, Larry King addressed the issue of brain injury in the NFL with Superbowl Champion Fred McCrary, NFL Player Marcedes Lewis, Sports Illustrated Writer Jim Trotter, and brain imaging expert Dr. Daniel Amen. Amen noted that it's not just football players who are at risk -- hockey players, boxers, and other high-impact athletes also frequently face head injury.
While the NFL and others have taken strides to make the game safer, Amen notes above that we need to "take the head out of practice and out of the game." The NFL's Jeff Miller responded to today's report about Borland, asserting that football has addressed issues concerning brain damage: "We respect Chris Borland's decision and wish him all the best. Playing any sport is a personal decision. By any measure, football has never been safer and we continue to make progress with rule changes, safer tackling techniques at all levels of football, and better equipment, protocols and medical care for players."
Will Borland's early retirement change the game? Will there be more rule changes so there aren't as many concussions? Will players still keep playing to get out of tough economic situations at home? And whose responsibility is it to stop them or not?
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