Are bigger football players causing more concussions?

Concussion litigation

The average weight of NFL players has increased over the years and some experts are wondering if that weight increase is leading to a higher concussion risk.

The Deaths

With the NFL concussion lawsuits and news of players committing suicide and suffering with depression making headlines on a nearly daily basis, one can’t help but wonder why all of these things are happening now.  Why not thirty years ago?  Many of the suicides have been linked back to CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a kind of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head.  CTE has been identified as a major cause of depression and dementia.

Ray Easterling, 62, Dave Duerson, 50, Junior Seau, 43.  All of these former NFL players have committed suicide in the last couple of years; CTE has been found in all of their brains.  In response, the NFL has launched a mental health hotline for suicide prevention.

The NFL launched a mental health hotline developed and operated with the assistance of specialists in suicide prevention.

How big are the players?

In 1966, Alabama was undefeated and their heaviest player weight 223, the linemen average 194, the quarterback only 177.

In 1988, there were only three players in the entire NFL who weight more than 300 pounds.

In 2011, there were over 350 players who weighed more than 300 pounds.  To get to a weight with only three people you’d have to jump up to 350 pounds, or 50 pounds heavier than 25 years prior.  All but one of the NFL’s 32 offensive lines averaged over 300 pounds — 100 pounds heavier than Alabama in 1966.

Concussions are dangerous

The average lifespan of a former pro-football player is 20 years less than the average lifespan of men in America.  For linesmen, it’s more like 25 years less — somewhere in the low 50s.  If players weren’t aware before, there’s certainly no avoiding the fact now that playing football is hazardous to your health.  And it’s hard to believe there is any equipment that can withstand repeated hits from people who weigh 350 pounds.

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