Dan Marino withdraws a concussion lawsuit against NFL

NFL legend Dan Marino had second thoughts about suing the NFL over the link between concussion and long-term health problems. After being reported that Dan…

Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino speaks to reporters about the Pro Football Hall of Fame fanjets at the I-X Center in Cleveland Tuesday, April 29, 2014. The inaugural fanfest features 100 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame interacting with fans May 3-4, 2014. (AP Photo)

NFL legend Dan Marino had second thoughts about suing the NFL over the link between concussion and long-term health problems.

After being reported that Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game, joined 14 former players in filling the federal lawsuit, his lawyer announced that he will withdraw the lawsuit.

“It was never Marino’s intention to initiate litigation in this case, but to ensure that in the event he had adverse health consequences down the road, he would be covered with health benefits. They are working to correct the error,” according a report  by the Sun-Sentinel.

Over the course of his career, Marino has experienced great success as both a player and broadcaster and by all “records” didn’t suffer a concussion during his NFL career; as such, his lawsuit is not for personal gain. Rather, it is a call to action for a league which has mired itself in deniability and a refusal to act for far too long.

Concussions in the NFL

The 2013 NFL season lasted 119 days. By the time the Seattle Seahawks were crowned NFL champs on February 2nd, concussions in the NFL outnumbered days by a margin of 1.3.

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In just five months of play, 152 players suffered serious head injuries; the Cincinnati Bengals lead the pack with an astounding twelve concussions amongst their roster alone. While Jacksonville cornerback Dwight Lowery missed 13 games following a “vicious crack-back block” in Week 3, his case is the exception; a majority of NFL players this season played in games immediately following their head injuries.

Not surprisingly, the conversation surrounding concussions no longer centers on the legitimacy of their health effects: clinical studies carried out at the University of North Carolina, West Virginia University, and Florida State University (amongst many other research centers) conclusively associate recurrent concussions with cognitive impairment.

Rather, the conversation has shifted towards the repercussions this link will have on the NFL’s own long-term health. Currently, the behemoth that is the National Football League includes 32 teams whose average worth is approximately $1.17 billion, with the Dallas Cowboys topping the chart at $2.3 billion.

According to Forbes, the NFL is poised to net a total revenue of $9 billion this year, making it the most lucrative sports league in the world. And yet, the sun is at its highest point just before it sets.

The league’s commissioner has set the ambitious, yet not entirely implausible, goal of $25 billion in annual revenue by the year 2027; but, this proposal could fade into complete and utter inconceivability if the NFL doesn’t deal with its Achilles’ heel: concussions.

In a recent poll, carried out by the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, 33% of parents who were polled are now, “less likely to allow a son to participate in a game.” That’s one-third of American parents who now acknowledge a significant shift in their perception as to America’s ‘favorite pastime’.

The effects of this change in public perception are already being felt: the past two years alone marked the single greatest drop-off in Pop Warner Youth Football League enrollment since the organization began recording enrollment decades ago.

The issue, however, far transcends youth football. As the American public becomes increasingly aware of the debilitating neurological effects of concussions, a troubling alternative arises for the league.

Dan Marino is one of the best QB's to ever play in the NFL.

Former NFL quarterback Dan Marino watches play between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs during the first half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, June 6, 2013 in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

If the NFL remains unwilling to adopt meaningful reform and take serious action in dealing with concussion prevention, the possibility arises for the socioeconomic polarization of football as a whole.

This is a call to action for the NFL. At stake is not only the wellbeing of the 1.1 million athletes who currently partake in the sport from youth to professional leagues, but also the wellbeing of the NFL as a whole. The process starts with awareness as the NFL hold responsibility for making players better aware of the risks that playing football intrinsically entails.

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As Ta-Nehisi Coates states in The Atlantic, “The NFL has a long history of lying about head injury, its effects and its connection to football.” The solution to concussions lies not in a refusal to acknowledge them, but rather in an organized and determined effort to prevent them.

The NFL made $9 billion last year; it’s difficult to believe that none of that revenue has led to substantial progress in the field of head injury treatment and preventative measures. As the NFL increasingly begins to mirror social inequality in American society as a whole, it falls to the world’s most powerful sports entity to inhibit the creation of a modern-day gladiator sport.