Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy, a seven-year pro, has some thoughts to air on the ongoing NFL-CTE saga.
The Detroit Free-Press published an email by Levy in article-form Wednesday in a piece that, apart from the introductory opening and a transition to indicate a follow-up email, was entirely written by the active Lions player.
Levy, 29, opens his extended statement by explaining that he missed the entire 2015-16 NFL season after sustaining a hip injury and being placed on the injured reserve during training camp. In his time away from the field and in the training room, Levy wrote, he had more time to think about the casualness of injury in the league. This is something he had not taken the time to do before, as he noted that when he was playing, he was able to block out the thoughts of CTE and write off instances of forgetfulness and “head buzzing” and instead focus on the task at hand.
The goal of Levy’s email was to show that having conversation about the long-term effects of football, specifically CTE, would be more beneficial than the silent approach that many players and executives currently maintain.
I think we, as players, have to acknowledge it and talk about it in a real way and demand answers. And talk about it now. I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t let their kids play football; that says a lot about what current players think and feel about the safety of football. Compensation isn’t an excuse to hide or downplay the facts. We need to know the risks and the rewards.
Levy also made sure to extend the conversation to the NFL’s handling of the brain damage epidemic. The league has had more than its fair share of controversy surrounding the subject play out publicly in recent years, including the latest scandal in which the NFL and New York Times engaged in a war of words over a story the newspaper published last Thursday, “N.F.L.’s Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Tobacco Industry“.
In writing to the Free-Press, Levy points to this story and others in which the league has been fighting the idea of making the connection between brain damage and the game. The lack of conversation and trust in the shield has resulted in a silence among players, who are stuck without a party to turn to for trustworthy information on the matter.
The only voices we have on the subject are the league, which, unfortunately, has shown it can’t be trusted. So far, we’ve had a rheumatologist with questionable credentials telling us that there is no link between concussions and CTE, and aided in covering it up, yet is still employed by the NFL
As a result of the information that has been brought forth by independent researchers, the NFL has had a number of players retire relatively early and cite the possibility of brain damage as a key factor — just this week, 30-year old Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah announced his retirement, saying, “Having a sound mind will be vital to accomplishing these goals.”
Levy closed his first email by trying to extend his thought process to the financial realm, making the case that by allowing the players to consume accurate information, the league would ultimately benefit, as it would avoid lawsuits and negative press in the future.
He sent a follow-up email detailing the reasoning and inspiration he draws from to continue playing football. In the note, he writes that considering he is entering his eighth year in the league, the damage has already been done to his body and that “I might as well secure comfort for my family so I leave with more than just a beat-up body.”
Levy is expected to be fully healthy and back in the starting lineup for the Lions upcoming season.