When the 2019 NFL season opens for the Seattle Seahawks the team will have a new strength and conditioning staff, following the termination of those who had filled the role the past few years. There has been no clear indication from the team regarding what led to the change, but it’s not hard to imagine that it may have been in part driven by a desire to hopefully see fewer injuries to players going forward.
Whether or not the change brings about that effect, the NFL and NFLPA on Monday released a joint statement on a topic that has been discussed for decades.
The NFL and NFLPA have announced two joint agreements to address pain management and behavioral health:— Alicia Jessop (@RulingSports) May 20, 2019
1. Formation of a Joint Pain Management Committee
2. Creation of a Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee pic.twitter.com/Y5kCdZzxfH
The first noteworthy portion of that from the side of the players is the “alternative therapies” that will be looked at from the pain management side. Obviously, one of the first alternative therapies likely to be investigated will be the use of marijuana for pain management. While medical marijuana is legal in roughly two thirds of states and legal for recreational use in eleven states, it remains illegal under federal law. The issue, of course, is that it remains illegal on a federal level, which complicates things for a multi-billion dollar entity with operations spanning the country. Especially considering that the economics of the game would have the potentially to drastically change if the federal government were to threaten to remove the anti-trust exemption the league enjoys. (Author’s note: This is a subject which is fine and dandy to discuss in the comments with no problem. However, it is also a subject which could easily devolve into politics and what not, which are not fine and dandy to discuss in the comments.)
In any case, the second part of the joint statement was actually more interesting to me than the first part. As someone who has dealt with the long term effects of a head injury suffered during a field exercise at Camp Pendleton in 1998, it is welcoming to see the involved parties taking steps to help address the concerns created and void in this area. The physical disabilities that former players face as a result of the abuse inflicted on their bodies has been long discussed by many, and addressing the mental health side while players are still in their playing days has the potential to significantly help thousands of players in the future.