A career in the National Football League creates echoes throughout a player’s life, some good and bad. The luxuries from rich contracts lift players into new economic strata, but others reverberate in medical records, substance abuse, and memory loss. The effects of American football on the body last a lifetime.

Players remember the hard hits, at least most of them. A Washington Post survey of retired NFL players found that nearly nine in 10 report suffering from aches and pains on a daily basis. Overwhelmingly, 91 percent connect nearly all their pains to football.

It’s not just the brain, though it is easily the most concerning part, that football is hard on. Injuries to joints like knees and shoulders, ligaments, tendons, broken bones and weight problems all follow a player off the field and into retirement.

Life Noggin looks at how football impacts the body as a whole, and not just the head. It is easy for us as fans to sit back and enjoy the sport, ignorant to the effects on the human beings playing it. But it is important to remember that when former players get out of bed each day and put their feet on the floor they at best hurt.

The Effect of Football on the Body Last a Lifetime

“You are supposed to be tough. You are supposed to play through pain. You are not supposed to cry. We are taught that early on in the game as kids. Tough sport. Brutal sport. It’s like the gladiator. People want to see the big hits. They wind up on Sports Center. And as a player, you don’t want to admit you are injured.”
–Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson

A rookie’s base pay in the NFL will be $450,000 next season, no small sum. But the average career length of a player in the NFL is just 3.3 years and in that time it exacts a heavy price: lifelong hurt.


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