The 2010 NFL season is the first time the NFL really emphasized the dangers and long term effects of multiple blows to the head. The league went out of its way in taking precautionary measures to ensure player safety and monitor the progress of those players who suffered a concussion. Although I applaud the efforts of the NFL going forward the outlook for former players who have suffered multiple concussions looks down right frightening.
Recently former NFL player Dave Duerson took his own life at the age of 50. Experts have speculated he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition brought on by multiple blows to the head. CTE can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal tendencies. The list of former players that suffer from CTE is unknown, but it's safe to say that the diagnosis of this condition wasn't a priority 20 years ago. There are probably thousands of former players that have the same symptoms Duerson had, but will go untreated because of a lack of medical benefits or knowledge of the problem. Couple that with addiction to painkillers, injuries that will never heal, and adjusting to life without football, former NFL players a multitude of issues to deal with when their playing days are over.
The information concerning the long term effects of playing football is inconclusive. Until the NFL has the ability to track and monitor former players for a long period of time we won't have a definitive answer. This does not provide resolution for the current pool of former NFL players that may need treatment. Hopefully future players that suffer from CTE won't go undetected and end up like Dave Duerson, but don't be surprised if you hear this tragic set of circumstances again.