Retirement and NFL Players

Table of Content

Go outside and ask anyone, who is close to retiring, if they are ready to retire. Basically anyone would say they are. Retirement is seen as a happy place for many but NFL players can’t say the same. Many go through a lifetime of pain and helplessness. Post-NFL life after a 3.3-year stint (National Bureau) is very hard. In those 3 years, players can easily receive an career ending injury, or not be able to find another job. The NFL is for many a dream job, but few make it to the big leagues. But that could be a good thing, as many of them will have a normal career that doesn’t affect their health. Getting injured in the NFL’s probability is almost as high as the Patriots getting into the playoffs, very likely. According to the Football Outsiders, 70% of NFL players have gone through some injury(2017). Virtually every 3 out of 4 NFL players have to go through a injury and rehab. And for some unfortunate people that’s a lifetime of some type of pain or injury. Millions can’t make up for permanent damage that can’t be reversed especially if it can lead to dying. In the news, there have been several instances in where an NFL player killed himself. Most recently Aaron Hernandez but, there have been more throughout the years. Jovan Belcher, Chiefs linebacker, and Junior Seau, a linebacker for the Chargers.

These were all caused by CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a brain disease caused by repeated head injuries that leads to impulsive behavior and clinical depression. These are just some of the things NFL retirees have to go through. A career in the NFL causes players to have trouble in retirement because the injuries sustained affect their everyday lives, the players can easily become economically stressed and/or bankrupt, and the NFL doesn’t prepare the players for post-NFL life. Literature review Bankruptcy rates in the NFL. NFL careers can be short and sweet or very long and dominant. The average career stint in the NFL is 3.3 years (National Bureau) but that doesn’t affect the weather or not they become bankrupt. People usually think bankruptcies within NFL players are caused by spending alot but that’s not the case. The median earnings in a career is 3.2$ million(Carlson et al. 5), alot, but it doesn’t add up once you count up everything they need to pay for. NFL players are human too, they pay for rent, gasoline, food, etc. but that doesn’t mean they’ll lose all 3.2$ million. They lose all that money from trainers they have to personally pay and the injuries they also receive. 59-year-old Ex-Jets receiver Wesley Walker who played in the NFL for 13 years says he has had 5 surgeries in 2014(Newsday, 2015). Those surgeries can easily add up especially if they don’t have health insurance. NFL players can also spend alot through depression. Some guys get too sad or lonely and start spending money to make up for that.

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According to Faure 98% of NFL wives noticed behavior and mood changes in their husbands(pp. 1-23). This leads to divorces and unhappy marriages which cause the NFL player to spend more either to get a medical cure or to get social cure. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The reason why NFL players may go bankrupt is because of the lifetime in constant pain. For most players it’s CTE, a lifetime lasting chronic head pain. Every article related to NFL injuries will usually talk about CTE but that’s because it’s a big concern and a real thing. According to a study, 99% of NFL players have some type of brain damage (Mez et al., 2017). That’s about 1679 players out of the 1,696 possible players, which is beyond belief. CTE has been deeply studied in the past few years and there have been ome new revelations about it. CTE is known to have symptoms of memory loss, confusion, personality changes, an problems paying attention(BU research center). Recently it has been known to give you depressed moods which can cause suicides(CTE Awareness Center). CTE has also taken lives of several NFL players lives. A study sample consisted of 2933 career NFL players and 879 NFL replacement players found out that 9.7% of career players killed themselves while 13.5% replacement players killed themselves(Jama Network, 804). These aren’t safe numbers compared to any other sport in the world. Emotional Trauma. Players also get emotionally unstable once they’re careers are close to finishing. This could be from CTE symptoms but also it’s because they’re going to be replaced by a new young guy. Being spoiled with attention and love throughout the years in the NFL can take a toll on you once no one cares about you(Chadiha, ESPN). That NFL schedule that they make you go through makes the players think that’s a real life schedule.

So once they retire or go home, they have a lack of motivation and will due to the fact that no one is telling them what to do. So what they do is spend money to feel like they fit with everyone else. Emotional trauma also happens due to injuries and bankruptcies. When a player gets injured, he knows it’s a long way until he gets back to his healthy self. Also players don’t get paid their game check if they dont play. Bankruptcies occur from players not lasting long in the NFL and them spending it too quickly. Once they go broke it over for them. They don’t have the real life skills to actually get a new job. Claims Injuries. Injuries occurred while playing in the NFL affect everyday lives because the things NFL players go through affect the player both mentally and physically. The hits are so severe that they cause players to have several symptoms. The symptoms include depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, and impaired coordination. Hits in the NFL are like car accidents says quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals and Jets Boomer Esiason. If a player gets hit, or delivers a hit, 10-15 times a game, that can easily affect him after one to two games. Several players say they’ve had a concussion but played through it. Concussions aren’t a normal and an important thing for NFL players which is very dangerous.

This is a big deal because the players who sacrifice their entire lives to play a sport for 3 years ends up having to pay someone to take care of them. No other sport in the world has this much effect on a player than football does. So they have to fix it before more and more tragedies happen. And if a player is mentally unstable that can lead to several suicide/murder attempts. The NFL can change this by having more strict helmet to helmet rules. They have implemented those into the game but they still don’t call it! A recent example is hit to Tight End Jordan Reed, in a game against the Cowboys. Yet once it comes up to Clay Matthews touching a Quarterback, that’s an automatic flag. Helmet technology has also developed through the years but still hasn’t limited concussion rates. Concussion and CTE devices havent been fully conquered so the NFL needs to put money into that type of technology to insure that players don’t suffer once they’re out of the NFL. Bankruptcy Rates. NFL players can easily become economically stressed and/or bankrupt because of the injuries sustained during that NFL career. Players can sometimes not be carefulwith money but it’s also the injuries that they go through. Making 3.2$ million for playing 3.3 years is nice, but does it compensate if they can never play another down or get another job? No. These bankruptcy rates link with injuries over several researches. That’s because when a player does get injured, he doesn’t receive his paycheck for that week. With there only being 16 weeks being played(for non-playoff teams), players can easily not receive one of those.

Also injuries that are sustained during a season is curated by the team. Once the player retires, there’s no one giving him free MRI’s or surgeries. 3.2$ million wouldn’t be worth it if the players wouldn’t have to pay off for those injuries and everything they need just to become healthy. This also links with the next topic of how the NFL doesn’t prepare it’s guys for the future because they don’t teach them the everyday life of a real person. NFL post-life preparation. The NFL doesn’t prepare the players for post-NFL life. The NFL doesn’t understand that after a career in the NFL, guys get lonely and confused because they don’t have an understanding of the real world. If the NFL were to teach NFL players, during the offseason, how their lives are different than those that they live right now, players wouldn’t be having trouble. The NFL is a routine, just like the real world, but the NFL routine has to be followed while the normal real life routine can be changed at any instance. The NFL needs to be less strict with the routine and show players the normal life. But the NFL injuries also affect them because they’ll have to be under stress most of the time. Rebuttal People often find it hard to believe these things though. Some people think CTE isn’t a real thing and that NFL players are just crazy. Although there isnt research to 100% back up CTE, the blows from playing in the NFL are real. Depression and suicidal thoughts cannot just come from nothing. People also think that NFL players are spoiled and just blow all their money. Although some players can be foolish with money, playing in the NFL costs alot. The injuries are costly but the treatment costs more. Also they can easily find a new job, so they’ll be under some heavy stress. Conclusion A career in the NFL can really affect a player in several ways. Whether it be the injuries sustained, or the bankruptcy rates, and the post-life trouble, it’s hard being an NFL player.

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Retirement and NFL Players. (2021, Apr 24). Retrieved from

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