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Columnists Call For Better Care With Former NFLers, Protection On Field For Current Players

Columnists Call For Better Care With Former NFLers, Protection On Field For Current Players

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Seau's death prompted many to say NFL should require counseling for retired players
Former NFLer Junior Seau’s death last week "needs to serve as a wakeup call to the NFL and the NFL Players Association that something drastic needs to be done about the post-retirement transition that players have to make back into society," according to Greg Bedard of the BOSTON GLOBE. With the new CBA, both sides have taken "much better steps toward caring for retired players with health and financial problems." But there is "little being done in the realm of mental health, and that’s where the biggest battle is being waged after football players are done." Bedard wrote, "The time has come for mandatory mental health care for former NFL players upon their retirement." Former NFLer Gary Plummer said, "It has to be mandatory, because no player, not one, is going to volunteer to go on his own. ... They don’t even give you an apple and a road map to find your way home when you leave the game. It’s just, ‘You’re done.'" Bedard: "Isolation. Boredom. Not knowing where to fit or who you are without an NFL jersey on your back. That’s the reality for ex-NFL players. ... Please, NFL and NFLPA, do something to take that decision out of those players' hands. Make counseling as normal as the arrival of their pension checks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6). In Boston, Bob Ryan wrote, "The evidence that football is inherently unsafe is there for all to see." Ryan asked, "If Junior Seau, a football player's football player if there ever was one, is found to be another CTE victim, will that cause even one American sports fan to reject the NFL on a moral basis? If so, that would be one down and many, many millions to go. How many lives must be ruined before America finds itself another game to love?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6). SI.com's Peter King writes, "The best thing the NFL can do to honor Seau is to continue to hammer home the protective point that while it may not seem fair in all cases to fine defensive players huge money for hits on defenseless players, it has to be done if the league is going to prove it's serious about making the game safer" (SI.com, 5/7).

CAUTIONARY TALE: The Washington Post's George Will said football "is in trouble” because the “human body is not built for the violence that is inherent in football at the highest level.” Will: "People will now watch football differently from now on because they’re going to feel a little bit like the spectators in the Coliseum in Rome, watching people sacrificed for their entertainment.” TV host Tavis Smiley said Goodell “ought to be more serious about this, but we all know what the problem is here: Money. There’s too much money in this game for them to take this issue as seriously as they should” (“This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” ABC, 5/6). St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell said, "Cautionary tale: Boxing and horse racing were the giants of sports in our culture not that long ago. Where are they now? Football pay attention” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 5/6).

CHANGING THEIR MINDS
: REUTERS' Corrie MacLaggan reported Seau's family is "revisiting its plans for research" on his brain. Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Saturday, "They have now stepped back from what they were thinking initially. Nothing is definite right now" (REUTERS, 5/5).

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