The football industry has had an incredibly bad public relations year so far on three levels– high school, college and the pros.
Three high schools suspended programs because of hazing issues with one school seeing seven arrests. On the college level, one player was suspended for selling his autograph, which seems to be a bigger than problem for the NCAA than the scores of players being arrested for various crimes since the start of the season. The NFL’s image allegedly has been tainted by the Ray Rice arrest and a video showing him hitting his girl friend last february. The TV ratings though seem to indicate the public just wants football and doesn’t care about anything off thye field. But the NCAA has a problem that it will not be able to hide. Another former player is suing them over concussion care and head injuries. Ultimately, the head injury issue will impact all levels of football.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has decided that Georgia running back Todd Gurley has to be suspended and pay a fine to a charity for cashing in on his own image. It’s a nothing ruling compared to what a former college football player has done and this could have major implications for the NCAA. Julius Whittier has filed a class action suit on behalf of players for $50 million alleging that the NCAA didn’t take care of players who suffered head injuries.
Those who set policy for the NCAA are in a tough spot. Julius Whittier, who played for the University of Texas between 1969 and 1972, is suing the college sports governing body because he has Alzheimer’s disease that could have been cause by playing football. Whittier is also taking action on behalf of all players who never made it to the pros between 1960 and 2014.
The NCAA, which has hid behind the “student-athlete” facade for nearly 60 years is going to have to explain to a court what protection and coverage that member schools offered football players. The student-athlete term has been used so that colleges could separate football from business and make believe that football players along with other athletes on campus are not bringing in money because football is just a game not a business. It is a business though.
About 4,000 former National Football League players settled a civil suit against the National Football League for about $765 million over head injuries. There is no real count on the number of NFL players who have suffered brain damage or have Alzheimer’s disease or ALS or dementia caused by repeated blows to the head during their careers. The NCAA in another suit proposed paying $70 million for brain injury tests for former college athletes and put another five million into research. United States District Judge John Lee isn’t sure that the settlement is enough because the tests are just that tests and not medical care. Is there a direct link that shows football causes brain injuries? The football industry says no, the players say yes.
More lawsuits are coming and that has the football industry on its heels.
This article was republished by the author, Evan Weiner. It was originally published on sportstalkflorida.com and can be viewed by clicking here.