Harvard Health Letter

Heads in the game

Concussions and other injuries may create problems for football players in their retirement years, although some studies show good overall health for former champs.

If the coaches of the teams in the Super Bowl are like many football coaches, they'll exhort their players to "leave everything on the field" — or words to that effect. But the field undoubtedly leaves something with the players, too. National Football League athletes have likened their profession to experiencing a car crash every week. Researchers have started to investigate the consequences of these repeated, high-impact collisions, especially when they involve the head.


Football, from middle school to the pros, accounts for well over half of the 300,000 sports-related concussions that occur every year in the United States. Experts believe many more go unreported because players fear being viewed as weak or missing out on a chance to play. A series of articles in The New York Times in 2007 put a spotlight on concussions and their long-term consequences for football players.

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