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De'Anthony Thomas says he'll be back in 2016.
De'Anthony Thomas says he'll be back in 2016. /
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It’s Friday Addicts, and that means another round up of all your NFL news and rumors from the past week.  There’s still a lot going on in regards to Free Agency right now, and it kind of put me in a tough spot.  Too many deals to track them all, but not enough to do the same listing that I did last week (which was pretty boring anyways).  So I decided to only cover the big moves that were made, and provide a link to where you can find all of the Free Agency deals that were signed this past week.

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I’ll also get back to the lead story feature this week, and the NFL delivered on that end.  I was prepared to write about Manning’s retirement…then Bryant’s suspension…and then the league just dropped one in my lap with a top executive admitting the connection between football and CTE.  I mean, if you’re just going to put it up on the tee like that…

Lead Story: NFL Admits To A Link Between CTE And Football

Ever since the movie “Concussion” came out, the term “CTE” has been thrown around by many like it was something we’ve all been intimately familiar with for decades.  Of course, that’s not even remotely true, and is more a result of the immediacy of the internet than a highly educated media and fan base.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is essentially a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated blows to the head.  It is most commonly found in individuals who partake in contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey, but has also been linked to stunt performers and military veterans, as well as victims of domestic violence.  The disease can lead to a number of physical and psychological symptoms, including dementia.

The link between football and CTE has been well-documented, but until recently the NFL was unwilling to admit any correlation between the two.  That changed this week when the NFL’s senior vice president for health and safety, Jeff Miller, admitted in an interview that there was a link between football and CTE.  While he stated he was answering personally, his position within the league essentially makes it an official admission on the part of the NFL.

This throws into question how the league will respond, as it essentially guarantees that they will bear the brunt of any responsibility for CTE in former players moving forward.  The most immediate concern for the league is how this will affect the recent $1 billion concussion settlement that was recently reached with a group of former players.  On top of that is the fact that there is another group of NFL vets that did not take part in that settlement, and will now have more ammunition to take before a judge.

But where the league is most likely concerned is in what this will mean for the future of the game.  There has been a recent surge in the number of people who support the idea of preventing children under the age of 18 from playing football.  This effort first gained traction after an article in the New York Times from Bennett Omalu, the doctor portrayed by Will Smith in the move “Concussion”.  This position has a lot of support in the medical community and is often discussed by NFL and other sports analysts.

What’s the big deal?  Well, simply put, the NFL cannot operate the way it does now without youth football.  If children under the age of 18 are unable to play football, it essentially drains the talent pool.  First off, you will lose a number of these young athletes to other sports…especially on the defensive side of things.  But more importantly, for those who do want to play, you have essentially eliminated their path to the NFL.

The NFL is highly dependent on the NCAA to develop high school kids into NFL talents.  One of the most important functions the NCAA does in that regard is provide a path for those who normally would not get into college.  Young men in that category make up a significant portion of the NFL talent pool.  Without youth football, college programs will not have the basic tools they need to offer athletic scholarships to these young men.  So by killing off youth (and high school) football, you have crippled college football, and in turn, professional football as well.

This won’t take place in a year, or even two or three.  But if the country puts an end to youth football, the NFL as we know it will not be far behind.

Next: Onto the teams...