Threat of mental illnesses in NFL

By Liam Krimmel
Sports Editor

Can NFL players playing on the field become diagnosed with mental illnesses like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Extrasensory perception (ESP), which is perception occurring independently of sight, hearing, or one of the other human senses? People who have ESP are claimed to be psychic, but people who are diagnosed with BPD are said to have long-term patterns of unstable or chaotic emotions.

According to a study published in the current research in social psychology in 2010, more individuals are much more likely to agree that ESP has widespread popular support with that of consensus, regardless of actual scientific consensus. The results of the experiment had psychologists worried about players in the NFL who are constantly getting hit, tackled, or getting very severe head trauma.

Players like Ray Rice, running back for the Baltimore ravens, and infamously known for striking his wife in an elevator, is an example for why psychologists are worried about NFL athletes and mental illness issues. Rice was later suspended from the NFL Due to his aggressive behavior. Another player who suffered from mental illnesses as well as gambling problems was Kenny McKinley, wide receiver for the Denver broncos. McKinley was found dead on Sept. 20, 2010, from a self-inflected gunshot wound.

According to the Arapachoe County sheriff’s department, depression over debt, injury and his post-playing career were the main factors for his suicide. The most talked about player who suffered from BPD, is Kansas City chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher. Belcher killed his wife Kasandra Perkins and then committed suicide as his coaches looked on. With his coaches trying to stop him, Belcher shot himself in the head with the same handgun he used on his wife.

According to a study from 2010 by John Hart Jr., a neurologist at the University of Texas in Dallas, current NFL athletes aren’t the only ones that could be facing with mental illnesses; retired NFL athletes are more likely to have memory problems and depression than non-athletes of the same age. These deficits may come from damage in certain bundles of white matter in the brain. Hart’s research had influenced athletic policies and treatment guidelines which later on played a role in court. U.S District judge Anita Brody granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for head trauma and concussion-related claims.

Due to changing policies in the NFL, the organization issued new lists like the Non-football injury list and the physically unable to perform list, which prevented players from playing in games or attending practices if they had physical or mental injuries. With these policies in act, the NFL hopes to prevent players from becoming mentally or physically unstable.