Are you ready for some head trauma?

As we enter the final stop of the NFL playoffs before the Super Bowl, a reminder from our friends at Dept8 of what the NFL shield really stands for: CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).


(For those of you with poor eyesight like me, the text reads “This degenerative condition is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience.  Any other result of sustained brain trauma, or any pictures, descriptions, and accounts of symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head without the NFL’s consent is expressly prohibited.”  Thanks, once again, to the First Amendment, which protects satire like this.)

For more on the issue, see this report about high school football deaths (a more scholarly treatment of both high school and college football deaths here), see how far we’ve come since 1905 (but also see this Deadspin article re-investigating the deaths of 1905), and consider whether we should do without helmets entirely.

Author: W. David Ball

W. David Ball is an Associate Professor at Santa Clara School of Law. He writes and teaches primarily in the fields of criminal law and criminal procedure, with a special focus on sentencing and corrections. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the Corrections Committee of the American Bar Association.

One thought on “Are you ready for some head trauma?”

  1. Soccer and rugby (Union) are not innocent either – sources in this comment thread at LGM. But without helmets, self-preservation limits the head crashes in rugby, at least below the top level of competition. In soccer, the problem is headers, often twisting the neck to steer the ball. Neither game should get a free pass from independent medical scrutiny.

    Adding gloves to boxing made it far more dangerous. IIRC 19th-century bare-knuckle prizefighters avoided blows to their opponent's bony head. which would damage their knuckles. They pummelled away for hours at each other's torsos, leaving bruises that healed, and regularly lived to a ripe and mentally fit old age. Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

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