Uncertainty. That's the scariest part of the NFL. Which city we'll move to, the longevity of our husband's career, or what the future holds following retirement. These are doubts most of us wrestle with as WAGS. Most of these questions are annually alleviated after training camp, but the movie Concussion adds to the list with the most terrifying question of all -- a question that won't be answered for decades.
Unlike the danger men in service face everyday, our husband's demise may happen years from now. The emotions I felt watching Concussion are the emotions spouses of the military, police officers, and firefighters experience every single day. I don't know how they deal with that. The feeling is that of your whole world crumbling at the foot of your significant other's career.
The Paradox of Loving an NFL Player
We fight back so much emotion with the idea of a brain dead husband: a man turned psychotic or suicidal because of a game he played 20 years ago. Will he forget specific events or daily activities at some point?
We put ourselves in the scary place of Justin Strzelczyk's wife. During a scene in the movie, she's choked out in front of her children by her brain-damaged husband. We feel anger. Anger toward the sport, the NFL, and even our husbands.
But along with those intense feelings form these contrasting feelings of gratitude for NFL -- the powerhouse that gifted our husband with his dream job and the league that supports our family and opens doors for the future. We wrestle with the idea of supporting our husband in a career that is extremely risky for his well-being.
Is it the NFL or the Players?
Concussion raised some points about the NFL's involvement in research for the safety of these players. As helpful and preventative as these measures have been or can be, it won't stop these men from playing the game and hitting hard.
Years ago there were all these unknowns. Today, all players know the risks. They hold their tongue during a game if they feel concussed or do everything in their power to pass concussion protocol.
It's pride. It's a feeling of invisibility. They will not take a chance of losing their coveted opportunity. They love the sport, the security, and their family so much that they are willing to risk it.
The scariest part, for me, is that my husband knows the risk but doesn't care -- most players don't. That's what makes my stomach turn. Years of research won't change the sledgehammer-type force every hit has on each player. So all we can do is sit and wait. We wait with hope that there is minimal damage to their brains.
Reviews from NFL WAGS
"I absolutely loved the movie. With my background in animal science we have to learn about the human body as well so I already understood the impact football makes on the brain. I'm just so glad my husband and his colleagues and teammates were able to see the movie. The movie taught them the signs to look for after a concussion and how serious they should take it. It also brought a much needed awareness to America's greatest sport." - Eryn Jackson, Wife of Gabe Jackson (Guard)
"I actually have a very personal connection with the movie Concussion. One of the characters in the movie, Andre Waters, was my mom's boyfriend for several years. He actually committed suicide while they were together and she was the one who discovered his body. He repeatedly said that it was something wrong with him and he frequently had suicidal thoughts. He suffered over a dozen concussions throughout his career. He pleaded with his family about making sure they donated his brain for research after he died.
"There were some details in the film that weren't true however for the most part the movie was accurate. Due to this I was very hesitant to see the film. My mother was an emotional wreck during that time and as a result I had my own apprehensions about my husband playing football. Of course I can't prevent him from living his dream but I with each hit or play I would hold my breath until I knew he was okay. I never took any play for granted and I question him after every game to make sure he is okay. Honestly, I hope that people understand that the game is dangerous and that the players risk their lives every time they go on the field." - Tenisha Patterson, Wife of Everette Brown (Defensive End)
"The movie is powerful and the family scenes are intense. As family members, no one wants to be helpless. We love football and have seen the professional game change quite a bit over the last decade." - Anonymous, Wife of Retired Defensive End