So Many Retired NFL Players now Live in Perpetual Pain

So Many Retired NFL Players now Live in Perpetual Pain

Terry Beasley, thus far, is the only wide receiver at Auburn University to become a two-time All-American. In 1971, he was named co-SEC MVP with quarterback Pat Sullivan during the latter’s Heisman Trophy season and, in 2002, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

During his three-year career at Auburn (from 1969 to 1971), Beasley amassed 141 receptions, 2,507 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was drafted in 1972 by the San Francisco 49ers and played 29 National Football League (NFL) games from 1972-75 for this same team. Beasley’s is a record to envy, but today, at age 66 and with what football did to him, he tells his wife Marlene Beasley that, if he could go back, he would give up football.

Beasley suffered more than 40 concussions over his career, and though he became a legend, he now lives in perpetual pain.

Terry Beasley is hardly out of bed and requires constant care. He keeps a cloth over his eyes to keep out the light and always has an ice pack on his head. Though he is on more than 10 medications he experiences short seizures every day and his excruciating headaches never go away. According to his wife, despite the injections for the pain, a couple of hours of sleep is all he gets as the pain wakes him up. Thus, as described by Marlene Beasley, football is not just a game. Every time players get on the field, they put their lives on the line and the symptoms of their head injury will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Though most of the injuries sustained by football players are musculoskeletal injuries, there are two other injuries that are more much more serious because these affect the brain: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Concussion.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain that can cause depression, aggression, dementia, and loss of memory and motor. Concussion, meanwhile, is “a change in a player’s mental state due to a traumatic impact. Besides losing consciousness, players who sustain this injury can also experience headaches, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, numbness/tingling, loss of balance, difficulty concentrating, and blurry vision; this is one major reason why NFL concussions are a serious problem.

The NFL denied for so long any possible link between the sport and brain injuries or CTE, it reversed course in 2014, however. Very recently, National Football League’s (NFL’s) senior vice president of health and safety admitted to a member of a U.S. congressional committee the connection between football and head trauma, specifically, CTE. This admission was influenced by a study conducted by Boston University, which found traces of CTE in 90 out of 94 deceased players it examined. (CTE, which was found in military veterans, those with a history of repetitive brain trauma and athletes, especially boxers, requires proof of degeneration of brain tissue and deposits of tau proteins and other proteins in the brain. Due to this, it can only be seen or detected through study of the brain after death or through autopsy).