Former NFL Players Dealing with Life-Long Injuries Say They Have No Regrets
It’s no secret that professional football is a punishing sport. According to a recent poll and article from the Washington Post, NFL players are feeling the effects of the game well after they hang up their cleats.
A major problem that the NFL is facing is the notion of playing through pain. An offensive lineman who reported having at least 15 concussions noted,”If you don’t play, they don’t pay. You will get cut if you are not on the field. This is why we play through injuries: We have to feed our families.”
The NFL has introduced new rules to increase player safety, such as changing kickoff formations, protecting defenseless receivers and, most recently, banning offensive ball-carriers from lowering their heads to make contact with a defender.
Despite knowing the risks of potential life-long injuries, many players said they knew that a career in the NFL would have an effect on their long-term health. One of those player is former offensive tackle Roman Oben.
In 2006, one of the bones in Oben’s foot was split in half. He had already won a Super Bowl as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had earned nearly $10 million to that point in his career. His mother and wife were pushing for him to retire but instead he underwent two reconstructive surgeries.
“I knew then at 33, 34 years old, I was going to have trouble walking when I’m older,” he said. “I just knew it. . . . I made the decision. I said, ‘I don’t care. I deserve to work as hard as I can to improve the quality of life for my family. It’s my risk. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.’”
After having the surgery, Oben only played in six games over the next two seasons before finally retiring. He reiterated that he does not regret any decision or sacrifice that he made.
And as tight end Chris Cooley said, “If you have brains when you start, you are aware that banging your head into people is not the best thing for your body.”