Part 2 of Brain Injuries and Athletes: Suicide, Murders, and Domestic Violence due to Brain Injuries
In part one we discussed, how three athletes lives ended tragically because of brain injuries. Former NFL Great, Junior Seau, Orenthal James Murdock of the Tennessee Titans and Dave Deurson a former member of the Chicago Bears, all committed suicide. They all reportedly had brain injuries as well, as a result of multiple concussions. These injuries occurred while they were playing football in the NFL and some injuries occurred while they were in college. Many people wonder why players continue to play the game after suffering such serious injuries. As stated in part one and as stated below, football is a game that is so beloved by the players. It is loved just as equally by the fans and walking away from the game that these players love, is no simple task.
Just this past weekend, another young football player Jovan Belcher, just 25 years old, murdered his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins. Belcher then shot and killed himself in front of his head coach, and other staff members of the Kansas City Chiefs in the team parking lot. At the time of the shooting, both his 3 month old daughter and Belcher’s mother were also in the home. His mother and infant daughter were not harmed. Some media outlets have reported that Belcher, like the players in part 1, had a history of concussions.
There are also allegations, from an unidentified friend of Belcher stating that he had abused a mix of prescription drugs designed to treat migraines and alcohol. He may have been, what is now know as a “silent sufferer”. There are reports that the couple argued about some events that occurred the night before, while Perkins was at a concert. That Perkins had threatened to leave him again, taking their 3 month old daughter with her and that she planned to file for child support. A new report alleges that the young couple argued when Belcher did not arrive home until shortly after 7:00 a.m., Saturday morning.
The focus of this blog is on players with brain injuries. It is to early to determine that this was a contributing factor in the tragedy in Kansas City. The investigation is still pending and we will provide more details on this tragedy in our criminal blog section. The lawyers at the Fort Lauderdale Law Firm of Berman and Tsombanakis, LLC, along with many avid football fans are concerned with injuries, deaths and murders that occur as a result of brain injuries and concussions. We are concerned for the wives, parents and children who suffer with the silent sufferers and who are grieving for their loved ones. As discussed in part one,we are concerned with how this will affect the game in the near future. What changes should be made to the rules, equipment and medical treatment of athletes, that are not already in place? There is a great concern with the lack of medical treatment and insurance that should be afforded to players after they retire or are released/cut from the NFL. There is also a concern for high school and college players with brain injuries and no compensation for future medical services. Players who dreams are cut short due to these injuries.
The families of athletes, and the athletes who are still living in pain each and every day due to these injuries, have taken a stand over the last few years. They have filed lawsuits against the NFL, colleges and even against School Boards across the nation for injuries sustained while in high school. Some argue that it is the risk one takes when they decide to play this beloved sport, that is also a very violent one. Others argue that the players are not aware of the long term consequences, until it is far to late. In many cases they are already at the college level, with family depending on their future fortunes. Some have already made it to the NFL and are accustomed to their lifestyles, indebted with mortgages on million dollar homes and simply want to retire on their on terms.
As of September 2012, more than 3,000 former players have sued the NFL. Their complaint alleges that the NFL failed to warn them of the dangers they faced, that they failed to protect them against concussions and failed to provide adequate health care. This football season and last season, we have seen new rules put in place to protect players from hits above the chest. We have also seen an increase in penalties and fines against defensive players. Some players and fans argue that the fines and penalties are excessive, yet others feel that they are necessary and that they are a step in the right direction. Changes are being made on all levels, even at the Pop Warner-Optimist level, where kids are now being instructed to block and tackle differently. Some coaches are making attempts to ward off some of the aggression that leads to serious injuries for elementary age children.
Brain injuries have also been linked to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other severe forms of mental illnesses. As stated in part one, severe and long term cases of depression, can lead to suicidal thoughts and tragically to suicide. These mental illnesses have also been linked to many cases of domestic violence involving athletes and every day citizens. Last year, former Dolphin Brandon Marshall, came forward and stated that he suffered from borderline personality disorder (BPD). This came after the highly publicized arrest of his wife Michi Nogami-Marshall for allegedly stabbing him during a domestic dispute. BPD is a serious emotional condition, typically with a tendency towards unstable and turbulent emotions, heightened anger, feelings of emptiness, and fears of being left alone. Marshall had a history of emotional outburst and public disputing dating back to his days at the University of Central Florida. He received counseling and is now a spokesman for BPD and has had a very successful season with the Chicago Bears,
At the beginning of the 2012-2013 football season, the NFL stated that it would donate $30 million to the National Institute of Health to support brain injuries and other injuries that are prominent in athletes. Earlier on that same day, the Journal neurology presented a study of 3,439 retired professional football players. The study showed that veterans of NFL combat are more likely than the rest of us to die from brain disease, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Additionally, it found that they are 3-4 times more likely to die, which is a very disturbing ratio.
The NFL is taking major steps to help with what appears to be an epidemic. There has been an improvement in player’s helmets and other equipment. As well as strict compliance to the new league rules, by both the team and players after a player suffers a concussion. When a player suffers a concussion, they must go through a series of test and they must be examined by the team medical staff and an independent doctor, who is not associated with the injured player’s team. The major issue for many former and current players is having continued medical coverage after their playing days are over. This will make sure that the “silent sufferers” will not spend the balance of their lives with untreated physical injuries and mental illnesses. It will give the families of lost love ones, some peace as well, in knowing that their fight for change and treatment of concussions, was not in vain.
If you or a family member have a brain injury and/or suffered a concussion or injured in any type of personal injury case, please email or call one of the lawyers at the Fort Lauderdale Injury and Accident Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC. at (954) 764-6099 or (954) 728-8885. We provide free consultations and can meet you at our office in downtown Fort Lauderdale or at your residence or any other location convenient to you. We handle most injury and accident cases on a contingency basis, meaning you do not pay us at all unless there is a financial recovery in your case.