Thomas Jones, a former running back in the NFL, has announced plans to donate his brain to science after he dies. Why? He’s spearheading an effort to raise awareness about the risks of playing football, including the affects of multiple concussions. An issue that’s definitely something to be cognizant of as you’re watching tomorrow’s Super Bowl, or any football game.
Jones played 12 seasons in the NFL for five different teams and recently retired from the Kansas City Chiefs. He says he hasn’t experienced the memory loss or the chronic headaches that can come along with a professional football career, but he wonders about the long-term affects that his time in the NFL had on his body.
That’s partially why he’s involved in making a documentary film called ”The NFL: The Gift Or The Curse.” In talking to doctors and players about the effects of the hard hits football players can take over years of playing the game, he decided this was an issue he wanted to address. Jones cites the example of Junior Seau, who committed suicide in 2012; Seau apparently suffered from a neurodegenerative brain disease that can develop from concussions known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. Jones says, of professional football:
Yeah, we’re making a lot of money but the reality is you’re taking a chance with your life, as well.
Jones has decided to donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute upon his death. Hopefully Jones won’t be leaving us for a few more decades, but I think his commitment to brain health in football is really admirable. Hanna Brooks Olsen recently wrote about her love for the game, despite its many problems; I think that if more Americans were willing to look at football and see both the positives and the negatives, the football culture in our country would be a lot healthier (and safer) for both the players and the fans.
Jones says he hopes the NFL will figure out a way to address this growing problem, but that:
Football is football, it’s a gladiator sport. Unfortunately, that’s part of the game.
In the meantime, I’m glad that Jones himself is acting as a positive force for this increasingly-important issue.
Photo via CNN