The National Football League drafts its new batch of gridiron gladiators this weekend. Many of these young men will go on to fame, fortune, and shirts with 21 inch necks. But a new study looks at the health of players after they’re done providing highlights for SportsCenter. The research, published in the current issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that former NFL players had, not surprisingly, serious problems with chronic pain that could become a factor in depression.
Almost 1,600 ex-players responded to a survey. About 15 percent reported moderate to serious depression. And half reported chronic pain problems. Which itself is a strong risk factor for continued or future depression. In addition, the players, who once led lives as symbols of strength and power, reported that they had trouble asking for help. Because they would then feel weak or embarrassed. The study of ex-NFL players thus shines a light on problems perhaps faced by many older people who once led lives of power and authority, and who now may find it hard to seek the help they need.