Does the NFL Have A Serious Problem With Injuries?

Damar Hamlin recuperating in the hospital after a cardiac arrest on the field.

Damar Hamlin recuperating in the hospital after a cardiac arrest on the field.

Jacopo Congiu-Hughes, Staff Writer

On Jan 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins during a regular season game against the Bengals. After standing up for a few seconds, he collapsed and fell to the ground. Within seconds, medical professionals ran onto the field and began administering CPR, and within minutes, Damar Hamlin was carted off the field and brought to a hospital. It turned out that he had suffered a cardiac arrest, and was actually dead for a few minutes on the field. Luckily, he has made massive strides in recovery, and seems to have no permanent neurological damage, although he is still in the hospital.

Though it’s impossible to blame Hamlin’s injury on anything but extremely bad luck, injuries happen in the NFL quite frequently, and many are a lot less blameless. And perhaps the most dangerous part of the NFL aren’t the big headline grabbing injuries, but the slow toll that years of playing takes on players’ brains and bodies. There are many people claiming that the NFL simply isn’t doing enough to protect players, partly because there’s no profit incentive.

Many argue that it’s unfair for viewers to blame the NFL for injuries. After all, isn’t football an inherently violent and dangerous sport? Perhaps injuries are just a part of the game. However, that may not be true too. Comparisons to similar physical sports such as rugby have found that football has a much higher rate of injuries, especially injuries to the brain, which can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition which affects many retired football players.


Apparently, this is a big issue for many fans, as well as players. Someone who has concerns about injuries is Braylon Mahoney, sophomore at State High. Mahoney has been playing football for 6 years, and watching it for “much longer”, so he obviously knows quite a bit about the sport. According to Mahoney, not only is there a “major problem” in the NFL with injuries, the main issue is “concussions, which is because the NFL hasn’t implemented the correct technology to prevent them”. By this, Mahomey means certain types of new helmets which can detect concussions in real time and possibly do a lot to prevent CTE.  When asked why the NFL has not implemented these helmets yet, Mahoney said that “they definitely could, they just don’t want to spend the money on it”.

Mahoney’s opinions are shared by many experts across the internet, who argue that these helmets could prevent CTE by diagnosing instances of concussions before medical professionals can, and helping the player affected get the required treatment as soon as possible. His opinion is shared by another State High student, Junior Ian Marshall. Marshall said “the NFL needs to use big foam mats inside the helmets to prevent concussions.” When asked why the NFL isn’t implementing this technology, he also gave a similar answer to Mahoney. “They know the effects and prevalence of things like CTE,” Marshall said, “but they refuse to implement counter active measures in fear of hurting their reputation and losing money”.

So clearly, this belief that the NFL could implement potentially life-saving technology in helmets to prevent CTE, but chooses not to due to profit reasons, is relatively widespread in the football community. However, this isn’t the only problem fans have with the safety of the NFL.

Another issue brought up a lot is the use of synthetic turf on NFL fields, especially a type known as slit-film turf, as opposed to grass. Many studies have found that this type of synthetic turf has a much higher rate of non-contact injuries compared to grass or other turf. One study even found an almost 70% increase in certain injuries when teams switched to slit-film turf. Many famous NFL players, such as Cooper Kupp, Nick Chubb, and Deebo Samuels have advocated for the banning of these turfs, and their replacement with grass fields.

Cole Rhinehart, a sophomore at State High, said that “many players have complained about turf fields. I think they should make all stadiums grass fields to lower the chance of injuries.” He also thinks that the reason the NFL doesn’t make the change is that “it is much harder to take care of grass versus turf.” Rinehart said, “Safety should always come first, and they have the right equipment to take care of the grass.”

Many people who engage with the NFL have some problems with the NFL. Problems such as improper helmet technology, or the wrong fields, can be very serious and result in permanent damage or constant injuries. There seems to be a lot of public sentiment, also in State High, to make big changes to many NFL policies.