Episode 6 - Why Does the NFL Allow Their Players' Brains To Go To Mush?

Ex-NY Jet, Marvin Washington, on cannabis & traumatic brain injury.


In 2013, 8,000 retired players sued the NFL for $1 billion in damages because of the brain injuries they sustained during their careers. They accused the league of hiding the dangers of repeated concussions and the harrowing degenerative brain diseases that resulted from them. Repeated head blows leave 1 in 3 football players 8 to 14 times more vulnerable to early onset Alzheimer’s and dementia, and symptoms set in as early as age 40. One brain injured player was discovered Super-gluing his rotten teeth to his gums to hold them in place. Another was found urinating into an oven thinking it was a toilet. Another was zapping his back with a taser gun to staunch his relentless pain. The issue was thrust into the spotlight when former Chicago Bear defensive back Dave Duerson committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest so he could leave his addled brain to science to dissect. His goal was to force the NFL to recant its long-standing denial about this illness.

Concerned coaches have called for more protective helmet design, but this is no more effective than wearing high socks to prevent a broken leg. The league also toyed with fining players who play too rough, but that caused a backlash among fans who enjoy watching their heroes going head to head. 

Cosmetic fixes won’t solve the problem. Nothing can repair a brain that has turned to mush.

Marvin Washington, cannabis and player advocate, thinks some change is in the offing. “There’s going to be a less prohibitive cannabis policy,” he tells us on this podcast. “Parents are seeing guys killing themselves that’s not good for the league, that’s not good for football.”

Joe Dolce