Two weeks ago, the NFL acknowledged the link between the degenerative brain disease CTE and playing football for the first time. This minuscule step in progress for the league, however, does little to mitigate the real-time concerns of active players, who play the game and therefore face the real danger of getting the disease.
DeAndre Levy, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, spoke to those concerns in an email to the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday. In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Levy spoke out against Indianapolis Colts' owner Jim Irsay's incoherent statement that playing football has the same risk as taking aspirin. He emailed the Free Press Wednesday to clarify his position.
You can read his statement in full here, but Levy makes a number of salient points concerning the league's position on CTE.
On the league's transparency:
While the research of medical experts and doctors tells us there potentially is a direct link between football and CTE, voices continue to emerge telling us otherwise. And you have to question why. What IS the harm in being transparent about the depth of risks that accompany this sport?
On the league prioritizing marketing over health and safety:
It’s unacceptable to prioritize the marketability and profitability of football over the real health risks associated with it. There have been scores of retired players coming forward with health issues, whether they’re related to CTE or not. We’ve found CTE in the brains of too many players upon their death. How can anyone, especially a team owner that has employed hundreds of players over the years, deny a link?
On the league's motivation for suppressing information:
Players make billions for the league; wouldn’t learning more preserve the longevity of the game? It seems they’re operating in a fear that if the real consequences are known, the sport will be in danger. The major danger is failing to be transparent. Are players’ lives not in danger by covering up vital information?
On his fears:
It’s imperative to help make players, current and future, more aware of all of the challenges they may face as a result of the choice to play football. We need to have the opportunity to really understand what each other may be going through. It's scary to think I may have CTE.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.