Football is a high contact sport, and it is often asked whether or not the amount of head injuries and concussions can lead to depression, and in some cases, suicide.
According to a study released by the NFL titled “2016 Injuries Data,” there was an average of 243 concussions between 2012 and 2016.
Aaron Hernandez, former New England Patriots tight end, died by suicide while in prison in April. According to an article written by ESPN, “Advanced stages of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy found in Aaron Hernandez’s brain,” researchers at Boston University found signs that Hernandez suffered from CTE, a common disease among football players. A lawsuit has been filed by the Hernandez family against the NFL and New England Patriots accusing them of hiding the dangers of the sport. CTE can only be diagnosed during an autopsy and is often caused by repeated traumatic head injuries.
While concussions are a common cause for concern, Dixie State University players and staff members said DSU is very good at taking care of players and making sure they feel safe and emotionally protected.
Bruno Silva, head football athletic trainer for DSU, said head injuries are not as common as some may think. He said approximately 10 out of the 120 players have or sustain head injuries each year. Silva also said DSU has a very strict protocol set by the NCAA it must follow when a player sustains a head injury. The protocol has specific steps that must be completed by the medical staff to allow players back on the field, such as assessing the players head and cervical spine to check for injuries.
Silva said he is always on the field with the players. The school has two certified athletic trainers during every away game and five on the field during home games. DSU never competes without a physician onsite.
Offensive lineman Braden Petersen, a senior business administration major from Draper, said DSU has great medical staff on hand and makes him feel safe on and off the field.
“If there’s anybody who needs any type of help whether it be psychological, whether it be just trying to figure out how to better attack school, better attack life, depression, anxiety all those things, they provided us with a great doctor [Dr. Ron Chamberlain],” Petersen said.
Because football is a physical contact sport injuries are inevitable .
“You’re going to see it in any game, and in football you see it a lot just because of the type of contact we go through,” Petersen said.
Quarterback Malik Watson, a senior sports management major from Pittsburg, California, agrees with Petersen saying concussions do happen almost every year although the seriousness of those injuries may vary. Watson also said the support system that the players have is very strong, and the coaches are trustworthy and give the players a safe place to go if need.
Watson and Silva have known players who have retired due to head injuries; however, none of them have ever known any fellow teammates or players who have died by suicide.
Concussions happen in football and multiple head injuries can lead to CTE; however, DSU football players aren’t worried. The players feel safe knowing they have medical support for any physical or emotional injuries they may face during the season.