“It’s scary to think about the future and the ‘what ifs’ … if it’s what he loves, I have to support it.”
What? No, you don’t!
The above anonymous quote from a feature about how 2,000 wives of past and current NFL players share their fears and console each other as the evidence mounts that their husbands are likely to spend their final years as tortured, brain-damaged victims of their sport and burdens on their families illustrates how delusional supporters of the NFL money machine have become.
It also shows, to depressing degree, how people will rationalize and justify conduct that cannot be rationally defended.
If an unmarried NFL player without family responsibilities chooses to shorten his life and cripple himself in exchange for a brief career in the limelight and a lot of money, that’s his stupid choice to make. Then the only other responsible parties are the cynical and corrupt sport that knowingly pays him to make that choice, the amoral and greedy corporations that make such cruelty worth the NFL’s while, and the ethics alarms deficient football fans who get their Sunday thrills watching young men slowly disable themselves.
A player with a family, however, has accepted an arrangement that mandates different priorities. I used to love playing poker until dawn and going out drinking with my actor pals after rehearsals. Nobody was harmed by these pursuits until I was responsible for the welfare a family. Then those things that I loved had to take a back seat to the people I loved.
These NFL wives don’t have to allow their husbands to trade their brains for cash, unless they want the cash more than they want a healthy husband. Their obligation is to do what’s in their family’s best interest, and that is to tell their husbands who wantsto engage in a life-wrecking occupation because they “love it”, “NO. You can have a family, or you can beat your head in for a living. You can’t do both.”
I could have made this an Ethics Quote instead, from Dr. Bennet Omalu, the neuropathologist played by Will Smith in the film “Concussion,” as he reacted to the recent study that found 110 of 111 former NFL players whose brains were examined after their deaths suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). He was quoted by Sports Illustrated. :
“Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute [parents who allow their children to play football] for child abuse and it will succeed.It is the definition of child abuse…If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure. There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer.”
I question his legal conclusion, but Dr. Omalu is correct regarding the ethics involved. Ethical people do not allow their loved ones to play football, nor do they enable, pay, cheer or encourage others who do.
17 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Month: An NFL Wife, On The Private Facebook Fearful Spouses Of Future CTE Victims Support Group Page”
Here’s the problem…when you start out with a population that didn’t have two dimes to rub together, and send them to a college that buys cars, pays for hookers, and pays all the bills, including the legal bills when these players run afoul of the law, THEN offer them 13.5 million dollars for a 5 year contract, what do you get? One hundred and ten out of one hundred and eleven players with CTE, that’s what. However, to say that there is no fix to this is ridiculous. The equipment is, at best, rudimentary. The ‘concussion protocols’ are ignored more than they are honored…need I mention Tom Brady? Injured players are taped up and sent back into the game. Others are put into ice or jacuzzies and play next week. The ultimate goal is to make the play-offs and/or the Superbowl. Much more lucrative for the owners than for the players, let me assure you.
I played football in high school, and, briefly in college. My net gain? A T4 vertebrae that is screwed up, knees that work part-time, a left hip that hurts MOST of the time and a memory that is problematic. AND I WASN’T VERY GOOD. Imagine what happened to the “STARS” who were encouraged to “play through” the injury. I don’t now. All this, and yet I love football. As little as I can play it, now, I still throw the ball around with my near-50 year old son and grand children, I still watch the Texans mediocre seasons, including JJ Watt destroying himself for the team. I’m not sure what the draw is, but it is compelling. Until folks like me can say “Enough! STOP IT!”, this isn’t going to change. The guilt I (sometimes) feel about this may be akin to a Roman walking home from the gladiatorial games, saying “I wish Claudias hadn’t been killed. I kind of liked him.” But, even as a retired psychologist, I have no idea how to deal with this. I intend to watch the Texans take on the Panthers tonight. I’m sorry, but I am. And somehow, I have to stop doing this.
dragin_dragon wrote, “Here’s the problem…when you start out with a population that didn’t have two dimes to rub together, and send them to a college that buys cars, pays for hookers, and pays all the bills, including the legal bills when these players run afoul of the law, THEN offer them 13.5 million dollars for a 5 year contract, what do you get?
You get Roller Ball.Roller Ball.
Just wait folks, new gladiator styled reality games are right around the corner, it’s just a matter of time.
We have covered the bread (welfare) so we need the circuses. The problem with a circus is that the draw gets old, and you have to innovate.
I don’t watch professional football much and the statistics are alarming. Spouses of the players should not put up with their husbands repeatedly bashing their brains out. However, most football players have loads of dough so I think the financial calculations play a large part in this “stand by your man” nonsense: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/the-conversation/sd-cte-study-in-nfl-brains-20170725-htmlstory.html
I hate football. I don’t watch it and I encourage all my mom friends to not let their sons play.
But this whole idea of “wives should not let their husbands play it” has me falling off my chair laughing. I can’t get my husband to do anything that he doesn’t want to do — my friends can’t get their husbands to do anything they don’t want to do. Their are only about a dozen or so sayings out there around the concept that men are incapable of change. After many years of marriage, I have learned that these old adages are true. Now, factor in that your husband makes millions of dollars playing football, his ultimate dream? Of course he’s not going to stop — unless HE wants to.
So, as wives, we only have one choice, and that is whether to stay with our husbands or leave our husbands. I am sure there are lots of gold diggers out there who were trolling for rich football player husbands, but there are also many who were with their husbands before they were stars and/or genuinely love their husbands. I think I can see their mindset a bit. If I love my husband, do I give that up because he plays a harmful sport? Do I not have children with the man I love even though he will die before it is his time? No, I won’t condemn these women. Similarly, I don’t condemn my friends who are having children late into their lives. Two of my friends just adopted a son at 50 years old, and this kid is the light of their lives. He will be loved and cherished. Good for my friends. They deserve this happiness, even if their son likely will be younger than his peers when his parents die.
There, not their. Ack.
Well Sparty, there’s always my favorite adage about husbands and wives: “You’re Perfect! I love you! Now change.”
There are other ways. . .
Care to extrapolate that “What? No, you don’t!” to other dangerous professions?
Police, firefighters, military personnel, aircraft test pilots, fireworks manufacturing, road construction, hazardous waste disposal, drug dealers, prostitution, car racing, motorcycle racing, etc, etc. etc…
Doesn’t this fit reasonably well in the realm of the Julie Principle?
Not quite the same thing, is it? Police, military and fire fighting is a public service in which one is engaging in societally crucial roles at great personal sacrifice. Playing football is not societally crucial. Meanwhile, divorce rates for police and firefighters are much higher that for the rest of the public—for exactly the reason I referenced. Wives and families have choices. “I have no choice” is a rationalization.
Also, if there was a study that showed that 99% of cops and firefighters would be eventually killed by their work, the comparison would be closer. Similarly, the police and firefighters I have known would not say that they do their jobs primarily because “it’s what they love.”
Sure Jack all that’s true and I agree with the core of your blog post; however, the rationalization “It’s scary to think about the future and the ‘what ifs’ … if it’s what he loves, I have to support it.” is exactly the same regardless of who says it in regards to a dangerous profession of their spouse; isn’t the rationalization what makes the quote unethical and isn’t that that what the focus was on? 😉
P.S. Football gets absolutely no support from me, not one dime, no acceptance what so ever, no applying the Julie Principle to those who participate, I don’t watch it at any level, I even try my best avoid sports bars that have it on their TV’s, nothing.
“Playing football is not societally crucial.”
Thems fightin’ words, Jack!
Seriously, though, I do believe this sport thrives for the same reason reality TV and soap operas do: once fundamental needs are covered (air, water, food, shelter, in that order) most people need circuses to distract them from their lives.
The Romans provided a minimal level of sustenance (bread) and blood sports for the circus. It worked for centuries.
I agree with all of that, and sport is theater: it’s important. But police, the military and fire personnel are there to save lives, which comes before entertainment on the priority list. Entertainment that kills people is waaaaay down the list.
Which ones of those professions involve a rediculus rate of losing lucidity? Those jobs mostly place the body in jeopardy, not the mind.
If you consider death rates, perception is wrong. Humans are bad at estimating low risk events. We tend to think of specific jobs you listed as dangerous, but all of those jobs are getting safer. If you drive a car to work with a long commute and someone doing one of those jobs takes mass transit, you have the more dangerous job.
The suicide rate in our military is pretty alarming. I would think twice before dating a soldier for that reason.
Maybe the answer is to let the man know how you feel — with graphic evidence — and when the response is “but this is what I want to do (play/watch),” tell him you’re going to focus on the kids with age-appropriate reasons the same way you would with any other unsafe endeavor (or support of such). If he objects to that and to withholding encouragement for the dangerous game, then you pick up the cast-iron skillet using both ha…. and finish making dinner before asking him if he thinks both of you should reconsider getting married after all.