A couple of former Tennessee players are among the football players suing the NCAA, "saying it failed to educate them about the risks of concussions and did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries," according to the Associated Press.
Chris Walker and Ben Martin, who played for Tennessee from 2007-2011, and Dan Ahern, who played for North Carolina State from 1972-76, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Chattanooga, TN, on Wednesday.
The complaint alleges the NCAA failed to meet its obligation to former players and because of its neglect the players are "suffering the dramatic consequences." The lawsuit seeks an NCAA to fund a medical-monitoring program for former football players.
I like football. Not like I love professional wrestling, but I like it. I don't watch professional wrestling like I used to, because it makes me feel weird to wonder if I'm watching men injure themselves in ways that are going to cause them to kill themselves or their families and then themselves. But, when I do watch now, I tell myself that they know what the risks are and they're well-compensated. And then I feel kind of gross and I don't watch for a while.
I'm starting to feel that way about football. I mean, look at Walker and Martin, who never had a big pro football salary and who haven't played at a collegiate level in a couple of years. And they're still suffering physically from it. A twenty-five year old guy might know what he's doing.
But does a seventeen-year-old kid know what he's agreeing to when he commits to play college ball? If we don't trust 18-year-olds to drink, why do we trust them to know they're consenting to likely brain damage when they play football? We're all stupid when we're 18. We all do dumb shit and some of it goes really, really wrong. But most of us are never going to feel the kind of pressure brought by parents and coaches and boosters and a nation of fans to use our bodies and risk our brains for their benefit.
And the fact that men who played football in college feel like they were mislead about the dangers and the repercussions of that play is disturbing. We normally think of adults trying to tell young people the truth and the young people blowing them off. What this lawsuit suggests is that the adults involved in college football aren't acting in the best interest of the players.
How much longer the fans can push that out of their minds while watching remains to be seen. I mean, people still watch boxing. But not like they used to. And kids still box, but it's not something parents who think their kids have any other options encourage them to do for a living. Football may see a similar fate.